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Man killed in mowing accident was dedicated to his family and football

August 11, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Terry Verdier is shown in May at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath in Williamsport with daughters, Emma, left, and Brynne.
Photo courtesy of the Verdier family

SMITHSBURG — Dedicated to Smithsburg and Leopard football.

Devoted to his wife and daughters.

That’s how friends and family described Terry Verdier on Sunday.

On Saturday night, Verdier, 42, of Jefferson Boulevard, died after a tractor rolled over onto him in the 22200 block of Jefferson Boulevard, where he was mowing a hillside, according to Maryland State Police.

Verdier had been coaching football at Smithsburg High for approximately 18 years, joining the program during the last years Carroll Reid was head coach, said Smithsburg High’s Head Coach Buddy Orndorff.

Verdier was a “devoted husband and father. He loved his little girls with all his heart and soul,” said Dorothy Barber, Verdier’s mother-in-law.

Verdier is survived by his wife, Diane, and daughters, Emma, 10, and Brynne, 8.

Barber said her son-in-law was devoted to his coaching and “got a lot of joy out of helping the boys.”

Verdier was quarterback for the 1988 Leopards team that won the Maryland Class A state championship over Havre De Grace in College Park, Md.

Smithsburg High Athletic Director Teresa Bachtell said she taught physical education to Verdier, who as a student was “very gung-ho, very competitive.”

“He had that spark that wanted to win,” Bachtell said.

Verdier became a coach for Smithsburg High’s junior varsity team, and later the varsity team, flip-flopping from high school quarterback to the defensive side of the ball.

As defensive coordinator, Verdier oversaw one of the most complicated high school defenses in the county and state, said Mickey Messina, Smithsburg’s junior varsity coach who also helps coach the varsity team on game nights.

Orndorff said he taught physical education to Verdier at Smithsburg Middle School and coached him in high school before Verdier joined the coaching team.

Verdier became one of the best defensive coordinators in the area and one of the best with whom Orndorff has ever worked, Orndorff said.

Verdier “revolutionized our defense again and got us back on a winning path,” he said.

“I told Diane this morning, it almost feels like I had a son of mine die,” Orndorff said. “We were real close. It’s just one of those things, catches you off guard.”

Orndorff said the two talked Friday night about their plan for Wednesday, when practice begins.

“It’s just really going to be tough,” he said.

Bachtell said she spoke to Eric Michael, Washington County Public Schools’ supervisor for athletics, and suggested counselors be present for practice.

Verdier was devoted to the kids, to Smithsburg and to the football program, “through the thick and thin of the program,” Bachtell said.

“His girls came to the game. His wife came to the game. It’s a huge loss for us, a huge loss for his family,” Bachtell said.

Eric Gerber, head of Smithsburg High’s social studies department, said he went to high school with Verdier, who was a year younger and served as backup quarterback to Gerber the year before Verdier led the team to a state championship.

Then the two coached junior varsity football together.

“He cared a whole lot about the kids. Coaching at the high school level, it’s certainly not about earning money. It’s not about anything other than you’re there working for the kids. That’s what he was about,” Gerber said.

Gerber and Orndorff said Verdier had jobs, including at the Victor Cullen Center in Frederick County, Md., working with disadvantaged youths.

He enjoyed playing golf, and though he was a Chicago Bears fan, Verdier went to Washington Redskins games with friends, Gerber said.

Gerber said Verdier was an excellent father who “doted on his girls.”

Messina said while the players and a few coaches would get on the bus for away games, Verdier drove the rest of the assistant coaches to games in his Nissan Armada, which had so many electrical devices, it was “almost like you were in a cockpit.”

Smithsburg High Class of 2005 graduate Matt Feiser said he asked Verdier if he could drive his Nissan Armada to the prom.

“All I did was ask him and he gave me the keys. That was real nice of him,” said Feiser, 26, who now lives in Hancock.

“He was a players’ coach first. He cared a lot about his guys,” said Feiser, who was The Herald-Mail’s All-Area Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.

“He was influential off the field, as well,” Feiser said.

“For a lot of guys, who needed a good mentor, he was one. He would talk to you about real-life things that were going on and not just X’s and O’s,” Feiser said.

Orndorff said Verdier was a “Smithsburg guy through and through.”

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