Coach Jim Alderman passes away in Florida at age 77

July 14, 2020

Coach Alderman - In late summer 1976, Rehoboth Beach lifeguards Bill Collick and Fredman had been fast friends for almost a year. Coach Frank Coveleski had us meet newly named football coach Jim Alderman out of Coatesville High and North Carolina. We met at the Beach Luncheon on the Boardwalk. We sat in a booth. Football guys like booths better than tables. We were veterans of football camps where linemen drank bug juice and ate pancakes. I remember it like it was yesterday. It’s yesterday I don’t remember.

Jim transitioned at 1 p.m. July 10 to somewhere in the Milky Way galaxy of 100 billion planets with 50 million of those inhabitable by the spirits of linemen that can punt a football 70 yards left-footed and can out-sprint running backs in the 40-yard dash. 

Thirty-five years ago I had a fake heart attack that was in no way real, but Beebe took it as an opportunity to stick me in cardiac care for two days to terrorize me before telling me to get out and stop faking. Alderman came by the house during my cardio-incarceration and took Tom and Jack to the beach for the day. Women do that kind of thing, but not many alpha males. Alderman was always Susan’s hero, me not so much. 

Unapologetically Alderman, beer from the fish cooler in the coach’s office after Saturday 10:30 a.m games. Most coaches back then were not big beer drinkers, although Alderman and I could bang with the best of them. 

Cape was crazy athletically good during the Alderman era of football because all the athletes in the building wanted to be a part of it and they all knew they could put on a helmet and never be as crazy as their coach, although some came close.

In football, when the adults get nervous about controlling the coach, you know you’re doing something right. Cowboy Jim in boots and hat was Longmire before Netflix. But Jim chewed tobacco, which of course involves spitting, which is nasty, and you can’t have a coach spitting and cussing unless he wins nine or 10 games a season.

A few years ago, Jim and I sat in my garage and we talked about our sons John and Tom, sharing thoughts about what we could do to save them from themselves. John is still here, Tom is not. I am still here, while Jim is not. 

Life’s game is about uncertain outcomes, which reminds me, Alderman once executed an onside kick with a 48-point lead. I told him some critics may construe that as unsportsmanlike behavior. He looked surprised.

“Hell no! We never work on that, the onside kick doesn’t work without the element of surprise.”

Jimbo surprises everyone he knew or at least someone he knew every day of his life. He is cruising around out there somewhere. You will never convince me otherwise. That spirit is on the loose.

Carbonada - Coach Alderman got on my case for making an Ultimate Frisbee player an Athlete of the Week in 1997. He told me his horse Carbonada was a better athlete than any damn Frisbee player. The next week Carbonada was an Athlete of the Week. Here’s the write-up under the photo  “Why the long face, Carbonada? The 9-year-old mare from Bald Cypress Farms in Angola belongs to Jim Alderman. Carbonara is being ridden in competition by Debbie Stephens, a world-class trainer and equestrian. Carbonada, a German Warmblood Holsteiner mare (you go, girl), was champion in the high prelim class at Hampton Classic on Long Island. Carbonara’s favorite singing group is Hall and Oates.”  

Furlong has this been going on? Gavin Furlong ran 50 miles Saturday as part of a Leadville virtual ultra race. It took the 37-year-old 10 hours at 12 minutes per mile. “I lost eight pounds, so lots of water to drink to replenish fluids,” Gavin said. “Next time I attempt an ultra distance it will NOT be in the summer.” A furlong is 0.125 miles; 50 miles is 399.999 furlongs. Gavin can run a 5K under 19 minutes, so he is a real-deal runner. 

Snippets - Restricted workouts begin Tuesday on the Cape campus. Football will be out on Legends Stadium, while open field hockey will be getting up and down the sprint turf at Champions Stadium. DE Turf charges $10 for all-day parking because ... they need the money. I paid $6.25 for a bottle of water and a hot dog, then put the change in the tip jug because I’m magnanimous and gratuitous and it was the fattest and bestest hot dog ever. Thank you, SoDel, for comprehending real sports fans. If you’re wondering why some sports are playing games, it’s because COVID-19 restrictions are in place and being observed. And, yes, it is all argumentative. “Wear a mask,” which proves to me what I already know, I am full of hot air. Mikey Fred turned 16 years old Sunday and was gifted a watercolor by New York artist Dan Rosenfeld who is part of the extended local running community. Art is forever. Go on now, git! 


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