SouthCoast Track Coach Darren J. DeAndrade Was ‘Beyond Amazing’
Almost every day for months, I have walked past a small rock monument with an American flag protruding from behind a shiny bronze plaque and never paused to see who or what it honored – until last week.
The rock monument is at the far end of the track at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus, where each day I walk a minimum of three miles. That's at least a dozen passes per visit.
The monument is barely visible from the busy Ring Road, where cars, shuttles, and students compete for space during a hectic day on campus.
One day while passing the monument, I stopped to see what I could learn about its origin.
The monument is to Darren J. DeAndrade of New Bedford, who died unexpectedly on May 26, 2017.
DeAndrade was a U.S. Marine and an avid golfer. He was also a beloved track and field coach for over 30 years at Old Rochester Regional High School, New Bedford High School, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
DeAndrade was inducted into the UMass Dartmouth Athletic Hall of Fame on September 27, 2017. The university's website states DeAndrade "was a beloved mentor to countless Corsairs and high school students in the Southeastern Massachusetts area, coaching the sport for over 30 years."
"During his tenure, the Corsair men claimed three New England Alliance titles, including both the indoor and outdoor championships in 2012 and the indoor crown in 2014," the site reads. "DeAndrade guided his athletes to 11 school records and 76 of the top-10 performances in program history in the throwing and jumping events."
DeAndrade, born in 1964 to Sylvester DeAndrade and Asia M. (Lopes) Silva, was one of seven children. He had two sons of his own and several grandchildren that he never got to meet.
DeAndrade's sister Aja told me Darren was "beyond amazing."
"He just had an aura that made people from all walks of life gravitate toward him," she said. She admitted she "may be biased because he (Darren) was my brother and absolute best friend."
Aja said Darren "knew a lot about almost everything and if he didn't, he would go out of his way to learn." He "was always willing to help out everyone, with no hesitation. He left his mark on everyone he encountered over the years," she said.
I'm glad I took a moment to learn about the monument at UMass Dartmouth and about Darren J. DeAndrade. He meant a lot to many people whose lives he impacted by helping them to be better.
What more can you ask of anyone?