Doug Erickson, whose high school coaching career spanned seven decades and included a memorable run at Draper, died Monday at his home. He was 88.
At Draper, Erickson coached the school’s unbeaten football team in 1966 to a Colonial Council title, while his 1982 and 1983 baseball teams won Section II championships and reached state semifinals.
Overall, his decades-long coaching career included winning 105 varsity football games and 415 varsity baseball games. All-time, Erickson’s won the eighth-most games of any Section II baseball coach.
Beyond his varsity coaching years, Erickson coached numerous teams at a variety of levels. He started out in 1952 as the varsity baseball coach at Coxsackie-Athens and ended his coaching career as the modified football coach at Mohonasen in 2011.
“I’ve been around a long time and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Erickson told the Daily Gazette in 2011, as he was readying for induction into the Mohonasen High School Athletic Hall of Fame. “I have lots of good memories and lots of good friends.”
Born in Corning and raised in Auburn, Erickson earned a full scholarship to play football at Syracuse University. After graduating with a degree in physical education, Erickson began his coaching career at Coxsackie-Athens in 1952. Erickson coached baseball at Coxsackie-Athens for six seasons, amassing a record of 77-7 while winning five Central Hudson Valley League championships.
Erickson started coaching at Draper in 1958, when he moved to Scotia. Besides coaching at Coxsackie-Athens and Draper, Erickson also coached at the varsity level as a member of the Linton and Mohonasen football programs, plus had one season as the Mohonasen softball coach. He also spent a year coaching at Niskayuna.
“He was tough. He got the best out of everybody who played for him and you knew he really cared for you,” Don Zarzycki, who played for Erickson at Draper in the 1970s, told the Daily Gazette in 2011. “He was a player’s coach … and he was always there for you.”
Erickson also coached three seasons of varsity basketball. His teams at Coxsackie-Athens won area championships in 1956 and 1957, while the one season he coached at Draper ended in a championship game appearance.
Erickson capped his long area coaching career with the Mohonasen modified football team. After starting with the program in 1990, Erickson’s first five teams were unbeaten and won 29 consecutive games.
A celebration of Erickson’s life is set for Thursday at Rotterdam Elks Lodge from 1 to 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Erickson’s memory may be made to Community Hospice, 445 New Karner Road, Albany, NY, 12208; or, to St. Jude's Children Research Hospital,262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN, 38105.