- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In the end, the clipboard never had a chance.
If a call went against former Patuxent High School head girls basketball coach Chris Turlington, who died July 19 of a brain aneurysm, the clipboard would be the first to go.
“I think he went through at least half a dozen a season,” said Stan Hampton, who was an assistant coach under Turlington and later became head coach of the Panthers. “Players on the bench knew to always be on the lookout for shrapnel of clipboards exploding off the sideline. When I was coaching JV, my players recovered pieces of clipboard that Chris had shattered during a game and presented it to him, all signed by the team at the end of the season.”
“I wouldn’t give him any more plastic ones because the plastic ones tended to shatter and make a mess of the floor and harder to pick up so he always got those old, old ones,” said Sonja Carroll, who also coached with Turlington. “They were harder to break.”
Turlington coached the Panthers for two seasons until the 2009-10 campaign.
“From the first day we met until the last time I saw him, he had a smile on his face,” said John McGuffin, who has known Turlington and his wife, Rae Ann, since around 2000, of Turlington at the funeral. “[He had a] big old smile that expressed he was living a wonderful life. And he did live that way; [he had] energy, [was] hyper, fun-loving, always ready to laugh. And he was passionate about his family. He loved his family so much he called his mother every morning on the way to work.”
Turlington, who was a history teacher at Patuxent, leaves behind two young children.
“Chris was a shining example of why to be a teacher,” said Paul Gray, who taught alongside Turlington for seven years and served with him on the ninth-grade academy team. “We teach to help students get better, academically and as a person. To quote my father, who when asked, ‘What do you teach,’ responded, ‘I teach kids.’ That is the way Chris approached each school year and each school day; kids first. He will be deeply missed, the halls of PHS will not be the same without him.”
Turlington graduated from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, where he was a proud brother of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and was instrumental in the recolonization of Kappa Sigma at Randolph-Macon. He was also on the school’s basketball team and joked he was the “13th man on a 12-person bench.”
Upon graduation, he went on to work for Kappa Sigma, proudly helping consult other chapters on the Eastern seaboard. It was through Kappa Sigma that he met his wife.
Turlington began teaching at Patuxent in 2005. He was an assistant girls basketball coach before taking over the reins of the varsity program for the start of the 2008-09 season.
“Chris was very passionate about his family first and foremost and coaching basketball,” said Derek Sabedra, who was an assistant coach with Turlington at Patuxent. “He strived to learn all he could about the sport so he could better himself as a coach and as a mentor to the basketball girls. They adored him as a coach and person. He always treated me with courtesy and professionalism as a fellow coach and he was very optimistic no matter how the team was doing.”
“He wasn’t as serious [as some coaches],” Carroll said. “He didn’t take much seriously but he was a great guy and he thought so much of his wife and kids and he was an all-around good guy.”
In one game against Lackey, a series of calls went against the Panthers so much that the feisty McGuffin, the team’s head coach, was pushed toward his boiling point.
“We kept waiting for coach McGuffin to stand up from the bench and flip out,” Sabedra said. “So Chris and I began to argue with one another after each call saying, ‘I'm not coaching this game when he gets tossed out’ and laughing the whole time. He never did [get tossed], things calmed down and we came back and won.”
After two seasons, Turlington stepped aside from the game in order to devote more time to his wife and children.
“I know it was very hard for Chris to step away from basketball, but I'm sure that the time he had with his family really matters now,” Hampton said. “Chris was so passionate about sports, and always wanted to talk about anything and everything athletic. It’s going to be tough not having that passion around Patuxent anymore.”
The love the community had for Turlington was evidenced by the 90-minute wait to just enter Rausch Funeral Home in Lusby on July 23 for his viewing. McGuffin said it wasn’t surprising.
“Everyone spoke of his smile and his humor,” McGuffin said. “He always could find humor in any situation. Chris loved life and he wanted those around him to love life as well.”
“Chris was full of jokes,” Carroll said. “He would do anything to fire up the players. He had these crazy off the wall quotes like, ‘Relish the moment’ and ‘Let’s not play ketchup tonight.’ He liked to link [his quotes] to food and he really liked going to Thomas Stone, he said they had the best cheeseburgers.”
“Chris was a person who gave maximum effort into everything he did,” Patuxent baseball coach Keith Powell said. “He lived every day he had to the fullest. He was someone you could always talk to about any topic and he was genuinely interested. He was a great coach and teacher but above all else, an amazing father. The PHS community will forever remember Mr. Turlington.”
Memorial contributions may be made in the form of a check to the Christopher A. Turlington Memorial Fund at PNC Bank, P.O. Box 192, Solomons, MD 20688.
Chris Turlington’s teams may not have won too many games, but he could always be counted on for some good quotes, such as these gems:
“Turnovers killed us and you can’t point the finger at one person because we were all equal opportunists.”
“We started off [shooting] great, but after that, it’s like someone literally put a lid over the basket because we couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean.”
“I’m not a math guy but I know [9 of 32 from the free-throw line], that’s not good. That’s tough, that hurts. There are certain things you can’t do. You don’t have control over the crowd or the officials or the whistles or what the other team does, but you do have control over free throws. And when you look at our inability to convert from the free-throw line, it’s bothersome because they are free throws.”
“Thank God, we’re finally home. I felt almost like a college coach for a while where I had to pack my bag. It was almost like no rest for the weary.”
“So far this year I’ve been very pleased with how we’ve been able to break the press, but tonight we had a very difficult time trying to break their press. It seemed like every single time we turned around there was a blue [Calvert player’s] shirt there.”
“Our problem was a consistent lack of ability from the free-throw line. It was painful to watch."
“What game are we on? [Game] 5? So, [for Christmas I’d like] an 18-game winning streak. Really, I want them to continue to have confidence. They believe in themselves, and we as a coaching staff believe in them.”