Dougherty Chosen to Replace Colflesh at Seabury Hall
By Rodney S. Yap
His name is Robert Dougherty and he will be the new face of the Seabury Hall athletic department.
Dougherty, his wife, Allison (Rawe), and their four children, Makena, Madelyn, Sands and Maile, begin residency on the Valley Isle, Monday, June 3, when they arrive from Visalia, Calif.
The former head coach at the College of Sequoias, where he also served as assistant athletic director and taught physical education full-time, will officially get the keys to the athletic director’s office in the Erdman Athletic Center on Tuesday. Dougherty will attend the annual Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Director’s Association conference, June 6-9, with Steve Colflesh, the man he was hired to replace.
Colflesh’s 30 years of service to Seabury Hall and athletics was celebrated at an invitation-only event, Friday, May 31, at the Creative Arts Center on campus. According to the school’s headmaster, Joe Schmidt, Colflesh will mentor Dougherty for his first six weeks on the job.
“I’m super excited,” said Dougherty by telephone Saturday, June 1. “My bags are packed, my whole family is excited. We’re all coming on the 3rd and our stuff is on a container right now.”
Dougherty’s arrival is similar to Colflesh back in 1984. Both are California natives with a strong backgrounds in football and administration. And like Steve, who’s wife, Melissa, graduated from Seabury’s inaugural class in 1967, Robert’s wife, Allison, is a 1989 graduate of Seabury.
“It took us four months to go through the process and we opened it up nationally and we ended up with about 60 candidates,” said Schmidt. “I had a committee that narrowed it down to 12 candidates and then we narrowed it down to a final four.
“Robert Dougherty was one of the final four and he stood out in all of our minds for several reasons.
“One is he’s very familiar with Hawaii and the transition to Hawaii would be easy as his wife is a graduate of Seabury Hall and his father-in-law (Dr. Fred Rawe) worked at Seabury Hall. That wasn’t the thing that put him over the top, but it was important. What was more important was I saw a humbleness in him and an incredible expertise.
“He has many years of experience in many, many sports and really understood what it is to be an athlete himself. At Boston University he was a legend. But beyond that was his experience coaching track, his experience coaching volleyball, his experience coaching baseball and various other sports.
“In addition, he has taught from middle school through high school and that was important, too, because he has that broad range of experiences. The other thing is, he’s young enough to be full of energy. He was just the total package. And when you meet him you will love him to death, he’s like a young Steve.”
“I was very excited,” said Dougherty, recalling the moment he received the good news. “I really wanted the job.”
Sadly, two days later, Dougherty broke the news to the Sequoias’ staff and returning players.
“I wasn’t looking to leave my job, but the Seabury job was just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that came up.
“I loved coaching and I enjoyed being the head coach there. I loved being an assistant coach, it’s a great place to work. But the chance to work at a great private high school and live on Maui, how can you pass that up? I knew a lot of people would apply for the Seabury job, it’s a very attractive position so I knew there would be tough competition.”
Schmidt added: “We had some really outstanding candidates. We had candidates from Hawaii and outside of Hawaii who were exceptional. From our four finalists any one could have done the job at a very, very high level. So we felt very proud that we had the quality of candidates that we had apply for the job here at Seabury Hall — which really spoke highly of the school I thought that people really wanted to be here.”
“I just wanted to make sure that whatever I did, I put my best foot forward for the job, and if I didn’t get it at least I know that I did everything I could,” the 40-year-old Dougherty noted. “Like everything in life, you’ve got to give it your all and see where the cards fall.”
About replacing a legend like Colflesh, Dougherty says: “Anytime you can stay at one institution for 30 years, that tells you a lot about somebody. They have to have a great personality to get along with people. I do realize that his are some big shoes to fill. I hope to use his knowledge and experience along to the way as I transition into the job. I look forward to our time together and hope to carry on the traditions that he started.
“I want to do a good job for Seabury and carry on Steve’s work. I’m going to tell the coaches and staff to just keep the tradition alive at Seabury, keep it going.”
Because Seabury remains true to the experience it promises its student-athletes, it offers 15 high school sports to its 311 Upper School students.
“We always have to think about the size of our school. We’re a high school of 300 students and we don’t want to be so broad that we dilute programs and they don’t experience the kind of success that the kids deserve. But we also want to be rich enough in terms of programs so that kids have a lot of options and Steve is the reason for that,” Schmidt said.
“We like our size because we’re big enough to participate in pretty much everything, but we’re small enough that no kid is cut and every kid can participate if they want to. We also like our size because no child is lost and every adult knows every child and every kid feels a part of this community and every parent for that matter.”