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Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

Trinity football legend Dennis Lampley has died

By meerna Jul11,2024
Trinity football legend Dennis Lampley has died

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Adjustment: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Rob Mullen as the president of Trinity High School.

For Brad Lampley, there was no separation between his family and Trinity High School.

The two were the same. It was the kind of culture his father, Dennis, had created over nearly five decades at the school.

The Lampley-Trinity family mourns the loss of their giant together.

Dennis Lampley, former Shamrocks football coach and athletic director, has died at age 80 after battling Alzheimer’s disease for several years, Brad announced on social media Wednesday morning. He is survived by his wife Brenda, children Brad and Brandee, and six grandchildren.

Trinity High School President Rob Mullen called Lampley one of the most respected teachers and coaches to ever work at the school.

“Beyond the victories and state titles, his loving heart was his greatest gift to us,” Mullen wrote in a statement to The Courier Journal. “I am just one of thousands who will attest to the profoundly positive impact he had on our lives.”

Robert Sampson, who graduated from Trinity in 2005, also expressed his views on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“No words can express the impact Dennis Lampley has had on me since our paths first crossed 24 years ago,” Sampson wrote. “Treasured memories, countless hours of knowledge imparted, unwavering support, and a model of excellence that will have a lasting impact for years to come.”

Born and raised in Burns, Tennessee, Dennis Lampley played football at Austin Peay. He arrived at Trinity in 1971 and served as defensive coordinator. He won four state titles as a member of the Shamrocks coaching staff before taking over as head coach in 1978. After two seasons, Lampley burned out on football, but he stayed in coaching as an assistant track coach and head golf coach at Trinity. His success followed him to the green, winning a state title with the program.

“I don’t know how much he really knew about golf,” Brad told The Courier Journal. “But you know what? He knew a lot about how to motivate young men.”

Coaching other sports rekindled Dennis Lampley’s love of football. He returned to the game in 1985 and won the Class 4A state title that year. He won four more titles over the next nine seasons (1988-90, 1994). Lampley’s three more titles came on the back of a state-record 50-game winning streak from 1988-91.

Brad got to experience his father as a football coach when he played offensive lineman at Trinity in the 1990s. Nepotism was far from the reality, but Brad said the way Dennis coached him shaped the way he raised his son, Jackson Lampley, an offensive lineman at the University of Tennessee. Also influenced by Dennis, Jackson wore No. 50 when he first arrived at Tennessee, in honor of the Shamrocks’ 50-game winning streak.

“It was tough because he was very demanding and tough,” said Brad, who blocked for Hall of Famer Peyton Manning while he was a volunteer. “He expected me to be a leader. I don’t think any of my teammates ever thought it was one of those deals where I was favored. If anything, it was probably the other way around. But I loved the experience of playing for him. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I wouldn’t change a thing. It had such a big impact on the kind of father I am and my relationship with my kids and so on.”

While leading the Shamrocks, Lampley went 138-21. Lampley hung up the whistle in 1994, leaving as state champions. Trinity defeated Boone County 21-7.

Lampley became Trinity’s athletic director in 1998 and held the position for 16 years, during which time he hired Bob Beatty, who won 15 state titles as the Shamrocks’ head football coach, and Mike Szabo, who won two state titles in boys basketball before resigning last season due to health issues.

Lampley retired in 2014 after spending nearly five decades with the Shamrocks in various capacities. He was a two-time Hall of Famer after being inducted into the KHSAA Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. Trinity’s basketball court also bears his name. In addition to sports, Lampley served on the board of the Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

Brad Lampley knows that one day someone will rewrite the school and state records his father established at Trinity. So when he thinks about Dennis’s life, those aren’t the first things that come to mind. What stands out most is the way his father integrated Trinity into his family. Dennis did it in a deliberate but subtle way.

“Some coaches talk about their players like they’re kids, and he…talked about them like they were young men,” Brad said. “He understood that he was trying to mold and shape men so that one day they would be good fathers and good husbands. A lot of coaches talk about it, but how many of them actually do it?

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the lessons I learned playing for my dad and how I apply them to the business world, or my relationships with friends and colleagues.”

Louisville coach Jeff Brohm, who helped Trinity win the 1988 state title, shared the same sentiment.

“Although our sport was football, the game he coached was life,” Brohm wrote on X. “We had a special bond and I often turned to him for wisdom and advice. He was an incredible leader and motivator, able to inspire anyone to be the best in any endeavor he undertook. He was my friend and was so important to our family. … I hope to be half the man and half the coach he was. Rest in peace, Coach Lampley.”

Even after Brohm graduated from Trinity, Lampley kept in touch with him and came to some of Brohm’s games and practices when he was coaching at Purdue. Brohm added that whenever he came to town, he would always stop by and visit with his former coach.

When Brohm returned to Louisville to train, Lampley and his wife attended his introductory press conference. Although Lampley had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his presence there meant the world to Brohm.

Lampley’s presence was evidence of his belief in treating Trinity High School athletes like family.

“As we get older and wiser and more mature, you realize that those special relationships don’t happen all the time and you treasure them,” Brohm said. “I just think all the players and students who had the opportunity to be around Coach Lampley vividly remember a lot of good times and a lot of good memories.”

Visitation for Dennis Lampley will be held Friday from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Pearson Funeral Home. Trinity High School will hold a funeral Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at Steinhauser Gymnasium. Interment will follow at Cave Hill Cemetery. A reception will follow at Trinity’s Communication Arts Center.

Contact the Louisville football, women’s basketball and baseball reporter at [email protected] or follow her on X at @Alexis_Cubit.

By meerna

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