Published by the Times Union on January 26, 2019. Photos courtesy of Tracy Kaback Photography.
Scattered throughout Ned McGraw Gymnasium on Friday night were reminders of 50 years of an incredible athletic legacy for Dave Doemel, from teammates during his playing days at Christian Brothers Academy to the countless players he coached in both basketball and baseball at the school.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Brothers had secured a 66-48 victory over Columbia in Suburban Council boys’ basketball action. With the win, Doemel surpassed Bill Telasky — the man he played for —to become the program’s all-time leader with 335 varsity victories.
“When I played, I think I totaled about two minutes and a half of game time, so I didn’t win many games as a player,” Doemel said. “These kids that I got to coach, and had the privilege to coach, won an awful lot of games for me. I appreciate them more than anything.”
Doemel, a 1971 CBA graduate when the school was located in Albany, was a reserve basketball player as a junior and senior playing for Telasky and was the first recipient of the Gene Kelsey Award for “dedication, determination and desire.” Doemel’s main sport was baseball and he went on to play at Notre Dame. After graduating college, Doemel returned to his alma mater and worked his way up the coaching ranks in basketball and baseball.
“Between Ned McGraw, Jim Pedlow and Bill Telasky, I couldn’t ask for better mentors and teachers,” Doemel said.
Doemel replaced Pedlow as the boys’ basketball varsity coach for the 1997-98 season. His first three campaigns resulted in records of 3-18, 3-19 and 3-18.
“I was wondering if I was going to be able to continue to coach,” Doemel said.
Jim Smith, the CBA athletic director who hired Doemel, had some alumni grumbling at him during those early lean years. He never wavered in his faith in Doemel, who also received strong words of encouragement from Albany High coaching legend Paul Lyons. Doemel proceeded to guide CBA to 10 straight Section II finals and led the Brothers to seven sectional titles during his tenure, including four straight Class AA championships. He led the 2009-10 squad to the Class AA state title capped by a 71-53 triumph over Half Hallow Hills West.
Among the many past stars and role players in attendance Friday was Joe Vellano, who starred at CBA in football and went on to play in the NFL. He was a reserve on the basketball team.
“I hear from them all over the course of the year. When I get to see them, and they go out of their way to come to a game, it means a lot,” Doemel said. “I guess I have had a lot of sons over the years. I guess that is what keeps me in this place and getting up every morning coming to work.”
“He is a great coach,” CBA junior point guard Jordan King said. “He is always looking out for everyone. He is never selfish and is always looking out for the team. Playing for him the last three years has been a great opportunity and I am so glad that I am part of this moment.”
Columbia (8-7, 6-5) did not want to cooperate Friday, breaking out to an 8-3 lead as the Brothers committed four turnovers in their first five possessions that resulted in Doemel calling a timeout.
“That brought us back to reality,” CBA senior center Drew Signor said. “We were overhyped trying to make a big statement.”
King ripped off 13 straight points for the Brothers (9-5, 7-4) to end the first quarter with CBA up 21-19. He and Signor (11 points, 18 rebounds, three assists) each added seven points in the second quarter as the Brothers built a 42-27 halftime advantage. CBA never allowed the lead to dip below double digits in the second half as Peter O’Toole (18 points) tallied 10 points in the third quarter.
Signor said losing was not an option as the Brothers wanted to ensure Doemel landed his historic win at home.
“Brotherhood,” Signor said. “Everyone says it, but it is fact. Everyone loves this school. Everyone that graduated and knew coach came back because this was a big game for him. It is brotherhood.”