Ex-Chamberlain basketball coach honored
Gym named for longtime coach, former player Doug Aplin
TAMPA — Doug Aplin’s special night did not quite end in storybook fashion with Chamberlain’s boys basketball team losing to Class 6A, District 9 rival Jefferson following a ceremony naming the school’s gym in his honor.
Aplin, who coached the Chiefs to 512 wins from 1978-2009. His 31 seasons at Chamberlain included state final four berths in 1989, 1990 and 1996. Aplin also was a 1,000-point scorer for Chamberlain, where he graduated in 1972 before playing at the University of South Florida.
The Charles “Doug” Aplin Gymnasium was christened Nov. 22 with many former players, coaches and administrators — not to mention supportive family and friends — in the crowd. The ceremony left Aplin visibly shaken.
“Obviously I’m extremely honored,” he said. “I can’t think of any bigger honor that a coach can receive.”
Aplin received a bit of sympathy from former rival Eric Hayes, a 1993 Tampa Catholic graduate who coached the Dragons to a 67-65 win that night.
“I hate to be the one to spoil his night, but at the same time I think he understands,” Hayes said.
Current coach Christopher Snyder, who considers the man he replaced as a mentor, said, “I knew this program had had success, but I didn’t want to follow a legend. I’m g lad it’s me that gets to be the one here tonight, because I followed the legend and I’m still here.”
Aside from his playing prowess and coaching acumen, Aplin is regarded as somewhat of a hero for saving the life of Chamberlain basketball player Kenneth Brooks six years ago. Aplin used CPR to revive the 17-year-old who collapsed and stopped breathing during a practice.
Among those in attendance for the ceremony were Chamberlain coaching legends Billy Turner (former longtime football coach) and Bobby Diez (current softball coach). Longtime rival Joe Fenlon, who coaches Tampa Prep, and former player Jesse Salters, who led the 1990 Chiefs to a state final, also showed up.
Aplin, who also coached flag football in his later years at Chamberlain, said he never spent a bad day on the job and would not have preferred to coach anywhere else.
“As a 24-year-old kid they gave me the job and they couldn’t get rid of me for 31 years,” he said. “It’s a great school. It’s home away from home.”