May 25, 2020

The DR Difference: David A. Marsden Scholar-Athlete Track


One of the most enjoyable aspects of attending Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School (DR) was the sense of esprit de corps, not just on the athletic fields, where you’d expect it, but overall, in the classrooms, on the theater stage, amongst the majorettes and members of the marching band. DR was a fun and inviting place to receive an education. It still is. I know that I speak for many of my peers when I say that I am very satisfied, even proud, to be an alumnus. As a current student at DR, my youngest son is learning to appreciate the very same things about his school.

Like any school with a significant history, DR has certain institutions that embody what Doug Kelley, our current Dean of Student Activities, promotes as the “DR Difference”. Wrapped around the football field is one of those institutions. Thousands of students have run thousands of miles around the DR track. Those compelled to voyage beyond the beloved oval took to the cross-country courses as well. For runners, miles turn into life lessons, battles fought, intestinal fortitude tested. Win or lose, something is gained beyond an improved stride. Such endeavors manufacture transcendent characteristics in a person. These were the truest of all goals, and they were set long before any student-athlete ever crossed a finish line. They were the foundation of the institution, crafted under the watchful, encouraging eyes of our beloved coaches.

DR was fortunate to employ those willing to groom students into scholars, and then scholars into athletes. This has been a long-standing philosophy of treating runners, jumpers, and throwers as respectable people first, students second, and then athletes as the culminating presentation of what may best be described as the “scholar-athlete”. For almost four decades, teacher and instrumental track/cross-country coach David A. Marsden dedicated himself to instilling this philosophy into the DR student body. With accolades far too lengthy to list, Mr. Marsden humbly submits the following thought.

“I want to feel that I was respected as a teacher who ever treated all of his students as equal human beings before he met them either as a student or as an athlete, ever realizing my job was to instill not only a pride in each of my students but also to prepare them for the adult world in which they were to enter and to participate fully and responsibly.”

– David A. Marsden

As evidenced by his own words, it’s no wonder Mr. Marsden received the highly esteemed Mustard Seed Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award and numerous Coach of the Year awards, voted on by his students, his peers, and his community. It’s often best to think of people like Mr. Marsden in terms of philosophy rather than accomplishments, even when there are so many.

It’s a difficult prospect to capture a community’s gratitude towards a philosophy and an individual that has exemplified it. Nonetheless, we believe we have achieved this with the recent dedication of the David A. Marsden Scholar-Athlete Track. A plaque has been created in commemoration. Vice-chairperson of the DR school committee and alumna, Kathy Cooper shares, “It is a great tribute to Mr. Marsden's philosophy of the scholar-athlete, exemplifying part of the ‘DR Difference’. This plaque will serve as a token of appreciation of his commitment and contribution to the Dighton-Rehoboth district." The plaque now hangs on the side of the concession stand, a perfect viewing spot for visitors passing through the gates into the athletic complex.

It’s a good thing for a community to not only recognize the value of the scholar-athlete, but to also rally around the institution and its attendants responsible for helping a community instill such things into the impressionable hearts and minds of its children. These are the thoughts embraced at every level of the DR community, from the highest offices of our superintendent, Dr. Anthony Azar, and our principal, Mr. Kevin Braga, to one merely involved citizen, like myself. "We have so many dedicated educators who continue to be the definition of the DR Difference. [Coach Marsden’s] legacy of hard work and dedication is still present in DR Athletics," states Mr. Braga.

Special thanks goes out to all of those working tirelessly for our students, for they are many, too many to list, actually. May this small token of appreciation cascade beyond a single philosophy or even a deserving dedication to a beloved teacher and coach. May it extend the message to those still serving our community, encouraging them, knowing that many of us see what they’re doing, and we appreciate it – truly.


Edward J. Collins
Class of 1987


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I was trained by Mr. Marsden in high school track many years ago and he was such a positive influence on me then, that I still value his advice today! I talk about him to my own children and how he impacted my life as an athlete and student. I remember he told me, "if you have enough strength left to sprint at the end of the race, you didn't give it your all!" It's amazing how one person can stay in your thoughts for decades, and may never even know it. I think this article was brilliantly written and encaptures the spirit of an amazing athlete, teacher, and man-Mr. Marsden! Thank you for positively influencing me back in 1987 and today.

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