Influential Coach Remembered after Tragic Crash

Thursday, July 28th 2011, 5:37 pm

By: News On 6

Originally Published: Apr 5, 2010 5:48 PM CDT

Gerald Goodridge
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

CALLISBURG, Texas -- High school football players and coaches on both sides of the Red River mourned the loss of long-time football coach Dennis McAlister.

McAlister was traveling on FM 2896 in Cooke County, Texas when he was rear-ended by Erlin Umstead. Umstead, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was taken to Gainesville Hospital in critical condition, while McAlister was pronounced dead at the scene.

By the time Callisburg Independent School District superintendant Charles Holloway had returned to the school from the scene of the accident, there were hundreds of students waiting for news about their coach.

“We had counselors and youth pastors here on campus to talk to the kids. We turned on the lights on the field and let the kids do their thing,” said Holloway. “We sent them home about 11:30 and told them to get some rest.”

McAlister was not only an assistant football coach, but active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a power lifter. He will be remembered not just for his coaching, but for the impact he had on those around him.

“He was a high school coach, but we’re a seventh through 12th grade campus. There were seventh and eighth graders that knew him and he knew them,” said Callisburg High School principal Josh Ballinger. “It’s amazing to hear about the lives he touched in his 40-year coaching career.”

McAlister coached all over Texas and Oklahoma during his career. He coached at Western Heights, Piedmont, Mooreland and Cordell in Oklahoma, serving as the head coach for two years while at Cordell. He also coached at Fort Worth Polytechnic High School, Dalhart and Callisburg high schools after moving south to Texas.

He served as the defensive coordinator for his first three year at Cordell after being hired by renowned coach Phil Elerick.

“He was a hard worker, but the kids loved him,” said Elerick. “He was right there sweating with them, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve lost a great one.”

Memorial Service:
Callisburg High School Gymnasium
April 7 at 2 p.m.

Funeral Service:
Hennessey High School Football Field
April 9 at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in McAlister’s name at the Cordry-Gritz Funeral Home at P.O. Box 125 Hennessey, OK 73742.


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