PRINCETON — Tributes keep pouring in for the late Dave Specht, former Princeton Community tennis coach and business teacher who passed away last Wednesday at age 77.
“Dave always had a smile on his face. A very calm coach who never yelled or grabbed you by the shoulder, but he got his point across,” said City of Princeton mayor-elect Greg Wright, who continues to play the sport he had never played until entering high school the 1978-79 academic year.
“Whenever I play tennis, I think of Dave,” said Wright.
“Everything I learned about tennis and how to coach the sport, I learned from Dave,” said Matt Moade, who played for Specht and has coached Princeton boys and girls for 29 years since succeeding his mentor.
“A good man who was very well thought of. He got you to play your best,” said Moade.
“I can’t imagine a finer man,” said Buddy Rogers, 1975 Princeton grad best remembered for his basketball career.
“Like Greg, I never played tennis untill entering high school. I still play the sport, and
when I do I think of Dave,” said Rogers.
“Dave and I became friends in 1970, when he came to Princeton after growing up in Evansville,” said former Princeton football coach and assistant principal Bill Krietemeyer.
“My wife and I socialized a lot with Dave and his wife Diana. He definitely was a good family man. He loved his family and he loved education — that showed in his teaching and in the tennis program he started.
“When I became assistant principal around 1977, we worked together in a different way. But I don’t think we ever had a major disagreement,” said Krietemeyer.
“A good man who was very conscientious in his coaching and teaching, as shown by his election (in 1999) to the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame,” said Tim Nonte, who came to Princeton Community the 1982-83 school year as baseball coach and teacher.
“Dave helped me a lot,” said Nonte, who cited Specht’s help when several framed basketball pictures, one of the 1965 Tigers who reached the one-class Final Four, had to be moved from the old middle school gym to the then high school gym on Embree Street.
“The frames were old, the pictures were extra-large, and Dave built new frames.”
Former Princeton boys basketball coach Jim Jones, an Indiana Hall of Famer in that sport as is Nonte in baseball, recalled that “Dave was my freshman basketball coach when I came to Princeton. He was a great coach and I think a great teacher, too. He really cared about the kids.”
Longtime Princeton track and cross country coach Bill Niederhaus said Specht “helped me a lot when I came here (in 1984). He cared about everybody and was always willing to help.He kind of took care of everybody.”
Wright noted that “Dave was the first high school coach I had. Knew I’d play basketball. But Coach Jones said that if you planned to play basketball, you needed to play a fall sport. As a 6-foot-1, 165-pounder, I wasn’t going to play football. So I went out for tennis.
“I played No. 2 doubles almost all the time, except for my senior year when I rotated between No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. Chris Schaefer, who starred on our 1983 basketball team that reached the Final Four, was my partner one year.
“Dave said you probably won’t play basketball past age 30, but tennis is a sport you can play all your life.”
Moade, who played No. 1 singles as a senior en route to 1982 graduation, noted that Specht, besides coaching Princeton boys’ tennis for almost two decades, started the Princeton girls tennis program in 1980 and coached the Lady Tigers’ for three years before turning the reins over to Sue Wilson.
“Dave was very good at teaching serving, the lob and getting to the net,” said Moade.
“I also had him as a teacher my freshman year.
“He talked about his family. You could tell by the stories he told that he really loved his wife and kids. We always had respect for Dave.
“After high school, I played some doubles against Dave. That was fun. He also loved golf and dancing; he was a really good dancer.”
Rogers said Specht, whose funeral was conducted Monday in Princeton’s St. Joseph Catholic Church, followed by burial in Evansville’s St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, “taught the sport so well that my senior year, Bob Bates and I went unbeaten at No. 2 doubles. Dave had a soft-spoken way of getting his point across.
“As an adult I’ve coached some tennis. I teach what I earned from Dave.
“He was a guy who always respected.”