About 800 people filled Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion in Lacey on Friday to celebrate the life of Olympia High School teacher and coach Todd McDougall.
The late afternoon service was filled with tears, laughter, music and, in true McDougall fashion, numerous sports stories and analogies.
“Look at this room — are you kidding me?” longtime friend Travis Jewett said. “ ... The place is sold out. The box score would say it.”
McDougall, 43, died July 27 after a seven-month battle with brain cancer. He taught English and had been the head baseball and assistant football coach at Olympia High School for 20 years.
“He cared a great deal for his students and players, even after high school and beyond,” said Capital High School principal Chris Woods, who was hired by McDougall about 15 years ago as an assistant baseball coach. The two grew to be best friends.
“He’s an amazing man,” Woods said before the service. “He’s my go-to guy. He’s the guy I depend on for solid advice, a man of integrity, a man I trust who has a lot of wisdom.”
Many attendees wore blue T-shirts that Woods designed. On the front, they said, “You might have heard,” and on the back: “He’s kind of a big deal. Coach McDougall. Romans 8:37.”
Olympia High School junior Kaden Wilson, who played football and baseball for McDougall, said the T-shirts referred to the scripture “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
“That was a Bible verse and a thing we said for Todd,” Wilson said. “A lot of people love Todd and are supporting the family.”
Woods said even though McDougall didn’t wear his faith on his sleeve, he was a devout Christian.
“That was at the center of his life,” Woods said.
The Rev. Randy Thyberg of Grace Community Covenant Church, the family’s pastor, delivered the eulogy, and urged attendees to remember McDougall’s “legacy of faith” and belief in Jesus.
“That is a life well lived,” Thyberg said. “That is a good game — a life which we can confidently say it was well played.”
The service included “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes and other music, a slideshow with photographs of McDougall’s childhood and family life, and remarks from several close friends and family members.
McDougall’s widow, Julie, shared the story of how they met: They were introduced in the bleachers at a Capital High versus Olympia High basketball game. One of their first dates was watching a playoff basketball game at Saint Martin’s.
“I agreed to meet him here,” she said. “And we took that time right over there, in those bleachers, to get to know each other better and watch the games. We made plans to go on an official date the next Friday night. He took me to dinner at this new place at the time called Little Creek Casino near Shelton.”
The pair coached sports at Olympia High, played golf and enjoyed watching Seattle Mariners baseball games together.
They were married in 1998 and had three children.
“We had a full, rich life together that I’m so grateful for it,” Julie McDougall said.
“I believe that we were meant to be. … For me, Todd was a gift from God.”