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Ambrose didn't bully his way to schoolyard status

December 12, 2004|By MARK KELLER

Regardless of what second- or third-hand information might have been related to you over the last 31 years, you must understand: Tim Ambrose is no bully.

That might be a little hard to believe, given that most every football coach in the area who faced Ambrose's Middletown teams in that time probably took his share of whippings from the Knights.

But blowouts aside, Ambrose was a coach who never forgot the most important reason he was on the sideline - the kids. And not only those on his team.

Ambrose, who stepped down as the Knights' coach two weeks ago, was always an advocate for all players - not the selfish, win-at-all-costs tyrant some made him out to be, usually after one of those aforementioned whippings.

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Several years ago, as we were taking nominations for our All-Area Football team, I looked over the ballot that Ambrose submitted.

His choice for Defensive Player of the Year was not one of his own kids, even though he did have several worthy of consideration. It was Boonsboro's Chris Dankmeyer.

His reason for selecting Dankmeyer consisted of two words: "Who else?"

He has gone to bat for kids, helped some get into college, helped some obtain scholarships. Again, it didn't matter if you played for or against him. If Ambrose could assist you, he would.

The same went for reporters. If there was some way that he could make a reporter's job easier, he would.

What strikes me about Ambrose is that, in my experience, he always treats people with respect. You can't ask for a man to do anything more than that.

In 1997, my first year as The Herald's lead prep football writer, I called Ambrose prior to the Knights' game against Boonsboro. I was nervous as I asked about the perception that he liked to run the score up against lesser teams. But Ambrose was candid in his answer and he spoke about that perception freely.

After the Boonsboro game - a 42-0 Middletown win - I approached Ambrose to interview him. It was the first time I had met him face-to-face.

He shook my hand and, before talking about the game, thanked me for the story I had written earlier in the week.

"You wrote what I said and what I meant, and I appreciate that," he told me.

Two years later, following a game at Williamsport, I asked Ambrose about a running play that the Knights had had particular success with against the Wildcats.

As he started to verbalize the play for me, he looked around, spotted a chalkboard and walked to it. Rather than just tell me about the play, he drew up the play on the chalkboard and showed me why the play was so successful.

That's respect. And that's why I'll miss dealing with Ambrose as a football coach.

Because he's just such a bully.




Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at keller@herald-mail.com

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