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ELCA softball coach Doug Campbell back in the game after quadruple bypass in 2018

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McDONOUGH — Looking back at the 2018 softball season, there was a perennial state playoff team out of the state tournament mix earlier than normal and it may have been enough to save Doug Campbell’s life.

The Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy Lady Chargers were out of the Class A state playoffs in the Sweet 16, and the days after can be counted as a blessing with the postseason stress out of Campbell’s life. A mere three days after the final game of the Chargers’ season, Campbell had quadruple bypass heart surgery, a scary situation that gave him new perspective.

Looking at Campbell this year on the softball diamond, it’s hard to tell he had the surgery. He coaches the same as always, and his players don’t see much of a difference in him.

“I’m still as grumpy and loud as ever,” said a smiling Campbell, realizing the stress of the playoffs last year may have had scary consequences for his health. “It’s just one of those things where I have to be careful and watch what I do.”

As with many programs, the coaches eat what their athletes eat when they’re on the road, but eating like a high-schooler doesn’t work well for everyone. It was a wakeup call to Campbell, who said he has to manage stress and keep an eye on the his diet.

“I think it’s hereditary,” he said. “When you have those issues, you kind of need to make sure you’re taking care of things and watching stress. I’m an administrator in the school as well, so I keep a pretty busy schedule and I have to keep the stress level down more than anything. I think that contributes a lot because I was burning it at both ends.

“Most coaches understand that, especially during their seasons,” he continued. “You have those signs that tell you that you need to take care of yourself. A lot of people can eat and do what they want to do. Some of us can’t and it finally caught up to me.”

Campbell said that there weren’t any signs leading up to his heart issues, which happened when ELCA typically would have been grinding in the state playoffs. He had coached for more than 30 years, never a spring or fall off.

“If you would have told me that was going to happen, I would have told you that you’re crazy,” Campbell said. “But it happened, so, it’s just a message to let everybody know to watch out for your health and don’t think you’re above being put in the hospital.”

The ELCA community rallied around Campbell during his recovery, which gave him time to find a new perspective on life.

“It reminds me that I am not in control and thus giving me a more eternal perspective,” Campbell said. “I am blessed to still have a chance to work with kids and make an impact through coaching. It’s more about that than the stress of winning and losing games.”

From the prayers to visits to cards, the outpouring of support was unbelievable, Campbell said.

“That part made me realize that it’s important to be loved,” Campbell said. “It’s nice, ELCA is a great place and they’re a great family. They’re a true Godly place, not by their name but by their actions. I’m truly appreciative of it and I won’t ever forget it.”

Sports Editor

Graduated from South Carolina State University in 2015. Been with the Henry Herald and Clayton News in two capacities as a sports journalist and interim sports editor.

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