Frostburg State University Tennis Center Court Dedicated in Memory of Coach Athey

Jul 22, 2019 9:55 AM

Friends, family and former players of the late Frostburg State University tennis coach Lonnie D. Athey gathered this spring to dedicate the Center Court of the newly refurbished campus tennis facility in his honor.

Athey, who passed away in 2006, coached the FSU men’s team from 1989 to 2001, and the women’s team from 1997 to 2001. The men’s team had a 123-55 record during Athey’s tenure, including an undefeated season in 2001. He was named Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2001.

“The really special coaches are the ones that do a lot more than coach, and that was Lonnie,” said Chip Carr, a member of Athey’s team whose generosity made the dedication possible. “Outside of our families, these coaches that we have in college are our first glimpse into what it means to be a leader. … The best of them really lead in life.”

Carr, Athey’s widow, Paula Athey, and other members of the Athey family cut the ribbon and unveiled the sign marking the courts.

“He was more dedicated as a coach, but it extended beyond the coaching hours. He was always available,” Carr said of his mentor. “He was always keeping up with us and making sure we were taking care of ourselves.”

Athey’s wife and daughters emphasized how much he cared for his players, caring for their development as an individual as well as an athlete. The relationships that he built continued for many years, they said.

“He made every player a part of our family,” Paula Athey said. “He wasn’t just a good coach. He was a great husband, great father, great son, brother and friend.”

Carr said that patience was the key quality he learned from Athey, who worked to make sure his players would slow down so they could take in what’s going on in a match. “It applies to life as well. You have to take time to understand what’s going on around you,” Carr said.

”Having him in our lives made us all better. … The world’s a better place because of Lonnie Athey,” Carr said.

For more information, contact the FSU Foundation at 301-687-4751 or visit www.frostburg.edu/foundation.