Doug Wellenreiter, assistant coach for the Goshen College baseball team, passed away suddenly on Tuesday, Nov. 17. He was 63 years old.
“Doug will be deeply missed,” said Erica Albertin, interim athletic director at Goshen College. “He fiercely loved Goshen College and the baseball team…His passing leaves a big void in our athletic department. We will miss his joyful spirit, his lengthy conversations and his way of making everyone he talked to feel cared for.”
In his seventh season of coaching for Goshen College, Wellenreiter brought 35 years of teaching and coaching experience to the school, after spending 27 years at Momence High School in Illinois as a biology and drivers education teacher.
He was also the head baseball coach at the high school and junior high school levels and served many years as varsity assistant in basketball, finishing his high school career with more than 625 wins and six trips to the round of 16 in the state tournament.
As a student-athlete himself, Wellenreiter ran cross country and played baseball for Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.
After retiring in 2014, he and his wife Kelly moved to Goshen, and Wellenreiter began coaching for the Maple Leafs. To read more about Doug’s life, see pg. 3.
“Doug’s passion and enthusiasm for Goshen College baseball, athletics, the institution and the community were second to none,” said Alex Childers, head baseball coach. “He was excited every day that he got to put on the uniform and it was apparent.”
While at Goshen, Wellenreiter coached first base for four and a half years before shifting to the third-base box partway through the 2019 season.
“He was a master of throwing batting practice and hitting ground balls,” Childers said. “We would spend hours in the office debating game strategy, lineups, pitching rotations, but we also spent hours and hours talking about family, talking about our guys, and how much hope there was for the future.”
Now the GC baseball team works to cope with an unexpected loss.
“Doug isn’t our coach, he’s our mentor, family and friend,” said outfielder Brighton Schofield. “This is unreal and unexpected. We thought our season was going to be cancelled, but this news is worse than [that]. Any player of his would be willing to give up all of their season or seasons instead of this.”
Wellenreiter’s impact is impossible to put into words, Childers said.
“It is no coincidence that from the time Doug entered our program our success on the field increased,” Childers said. “It wasn’t necessarily because he coached better or strategized better, but it was because he had this knack of elevating everyone around him.”
For Wellenreiter, there was so much more to coaching than the game.
“Hopefully my kids learn the game and it’s a lifelong value to them,” Wellenreiter said in a 2019 interview with IndianaRBI. “But the values that you teach are not just baseball. You teach them things in baseball that will help them for the rest of their life – whether it’s discipline, being on-time or never quitting. You hope you have a lasting effect on kids down the road.”
“I spent all night responding to players from different years about the impact that Doug had on them,” Childers said. “There will never be a shortage of stories or reminiscing about pranks or jokes he would pull. The hours spent together on the road, in hotel rooms, in dugouts I wouldn’t trade for the world. It is a void that won’t be able to be filled, but I am so thankful that Doug welcomed me with open arms and cared enough to carve out that void. Just one more time I want to hear him give me his ‘Three things’ in his postgame speech, but I know he’s got a coaching meeting in the heavens that he had to get to, and this team and community is going to be ‘OK.’”
Wellenreiter is survived by his wife, Kelly; his daughter, Brooke, her husband and two children; and his daughter Bria, her husband and son.
Memorial information is not yet available.