Dartmouth Celebrates the Life of Buddy Teevens ’79

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The beloved football coach was remembered in the stadium that will soon bear his name.

Buddy Teevens photo on Memorial Field jumbotron
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talks about the impact Buddy Teevens ’79 had on the game of football at the celebration of life for the late Dartmouth head coach at Memorial Field on Saturday.  (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

There were few places Eugene F. “Buddy” Teevens III ’79 knew better or loved more than Memorial Field, which was, fittingly, where more than 1,500 of his family members, former players, teammates, classmates, and fans gathered on Saturday to celebrate his accomplishments and to give thanks for the profound difference he made in their lives.

Teevens, who died in September at 66, was remembered as a compassionate yet relentless motivator who gave his all to Dartmouth, nurturing team members, recruiting and training younger coaches, and helping to make the game of football safer for players around the country. 

“There are those who approach competition with a fundamental fierceness and others who approach human kindness with that same heartfelt passion. Few people are exceptional at either. Buddy was truly phenomenal at both,” said Peggy Epstein Tanner ’79, trustee emerita, friend, and “forever fan” of Teevens. 

“He was deeply concerned with the values that people built their life on because he knew that our values are the things that carry us through the adversity that sport and life will inevitably bring us,” said former player Abrm McQuarters ’17, a pastoral resident in Christ Redeemer Church in Hanover who opened the ceremony with reflections and a prayer. 

A Big Family 

Shaun Teevens ’82, one of Buddy’s younger brothers, shared vivid memories of growing up in a family with nine children in an old Colonial farmhouse in Pembroke, Mass. Their mother, Mary, was in the audience, along with Teevens’ wife, Kirsten, their daughter Lindsay, son Buddy, and grandchildren, all of whom were thanked by speakers for the love and support they showed Teevens throughout his career.

Buddy Teevens family at the celebration of life
Family members of Buddy Teevens ’79, including his mother, Mary, and wife, Kirsten, center, listen to the tributes at Memorial Field. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

“Buddy had the knack of convincing us all that his ideas were good ideas,” Shaun said, describing how Buddy coaxed another brother into jumping off a bridge into Duxbury Bay near their home. “He provided the motivation … He knew how to push our buttons to get the best out of us.” 

Teevens’ insistence on goodness as well as greatness was a chord struck again and again, as close friends remembered his big and small acts of kindness, in good times and bad.

Near and Dear Friends

Tim Murphy, a childhood friend who went on to coach Harvard’s football team for 30 years before retiring this year, said, “He’s a better coach than I ever was, and I learned more from him even as a young person than anyone else. He was unique, and I’m very grateful to have had him in my life. He was my friend, teammate, role model, wing man, fun-loving and the fiercest competitor I ever knew.”

The urge to win was there from the start, said Teevens’ colleagues. As a student quarterback, he led the Big Green to the Ivy Title in 1978. Following coaching stints at Dartmouth, Maine, Tulane, and Stanford, among other programs, he returned to Dartmouth in 2005, where his overall record was 117-101-2, including 83-70-1 in Ivy League play. While at Dartmouth, Teevens, the Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach, was named New England Coach of the Year in 1990, 2015, and 2019, and Ivy League Coach of the Year in 2019 and 2021. He led Dartmouth to five Ivy League titles and is the football program’s winningest coach.

And along the way, he put Dartmouth in the national spotlight, working with Thayer School of Engineering to create a robotic tackling dummy to cut down on concussions in practice and hiring the first woman assistant football coach in Division I football.

Person speaking at Teevens celebration
Callie Brownson, the first woman to serve as a coach in Division I football when she worked for Teevens at Dartmouth, talks about his influence. Brownson is now an assistant coach with the Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Teevens inspired him to “look beyond boundaries” at unprecedented ways to protect players from injuries. “No tackling in practice. How’s that going to work?” Goodell recalled asking. “The game is safer and better because of him. A robotic tackling dummy. Yeah, right. The doubters were there. He didn’t care. In fact, I think he relished in proving people wrong. He did that time and time again.” 

Breaking Molds

With former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, father of football greats Peyton and Eli, Teevens helped start the Manning Passing Academy. “It’s been said that grief is the price we pay for loving people, if we really love someone and we lose them,” said Manning. “There’s no escaping grief. But it proves how much Buddy meant to all of us who knew and loved him.”

Callie Brownson echoed that sentiment. After meeting her at the Manning Academy, Teevens brought her to Dartmouth as the first full-time female Division I coach in football. 

Aerial of Buddy Teevens celebration
More than 1,500 people, including family, friends, and former players and teammates, attended the celebration of life at Memorial Field for football coach Buddy Teevens ’79 on Saturday.  (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

“I’m grateful every day that I crossed paths with Coach Teevens,” she said. “I’m grateful for the time that I had with him and what I was able to learn from him and how much I grew just by being in his orbit. It wasn’t enough time. It’s never going to feel like it was enough time. But I find solace in the fact that he lives on through the impact he left on my life. And everybody here.” 

Teevens also leaves behind scores of athletes who have been shaped by his lessons about life.

“Success was about making us better–better students, better members of the Dartmouth community, better leaders, better sons, better husbands, and better fathers,” said Tony Pastoors ’10, vice president of football and business administration for the Los Angeles Rams. “While we will never be able to fill his shoes, we should all strive to follow his footsteps.”

“Coach T provided opportunities. He changed lives, he altered cultures, opened doors, and taught lessons, and he just so happened to win some football games while he was at it,” said Matt Shearin ’19, the Rams’ manager for football administration. 

Along with hosting Saturday’s celebration of life, Dartmouth plans to dedicate Buddy Teevens Stadium at Memorial Field in his honor on Oct. 5, when the Big Green meets Penn for the first Ivy League home game of the 2024 season. 

“When we talk about competitive drive, that drive to win that defines our community, I can’t think of a better example than Buddy, because he knew competitiveness is not just about the scoreboard, it’s about pushing ourselves to go above and beyond to achieve. These are all timeless values,” said President Sian Leah Beilock, who said Teevens was one of the first people to call and welcome her to Dartmouth when she was elected president. 

Football players stand arm and arm singing
From left, Nick Howard ’23, Macklin Ayers ’24, Nic Sani ’24, Gavin Muir ’24, Dario Arazi ’24, Quinten Arello ’23, Tyler Green ’24, Josh Greene ’23, Sam Koscho ’23, Tyson McCloud ’24, Danny Cronin ’24, and Jace Henry ’24 were among the hundreds of Dartmouth football players, past and present, to stand and sing in remembrance of Teevens on Saturday. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

In another lasting tribute to a family that has forever changed athletics at Dartmouth and beyond, the College has established the  Kirsten and Eugene F. “Buddy” Teevens ’79 Scholarship Fund.

Looking Back, and Ahead

Teevens loved the music of his era, and popular songs by some of his favorite musicians punctuated the ceremony. Ben Riley ’79 wrote and performed his own touching lyrics to the tune of Jimmy Buffett’s Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitude, and Dartmouth football players, past and present, stood and sang team favorites, As the Backs Go Tearing By and Glory to Dartmouth

Following the ceremony, some current players gathered to reflect on what they had heard, and how they hoped to honor the coach who had meant so much to so many. For Christian Benson ’25, a running back from Texas, getting a phone call from Teevens “got me hooked on Dartmouth because of how straightforward he was and how honest he was about Dartmouth and what he expected for us.”

Benson says he aims to follow the “ ‘Teevens Way,’ by being very honest with myself and being true to myself and being very honest with others.” 

Or as Curt Oberg ’78, a former teammate, special assistant to the head coach, and longtime friend recalled, “Buddy’s motto was be a great football player at football time. Be a great student at academic time, and be a great person all of the time.”

What They Also Said

Abrm McQuarters ’17, former player

“Coach T valued the small and present moments that he had.”

Sian Leah Beilock, Dartmouth president

“I saw him embody everything that we want to be at Dartmouth.”

Peggy Epstein Tanner ’79, trustee emerita and classmate

Kirsten Teevens was “the love of his life and by far his favorite teammate.”

Mike Harrity, Haldeman Family Director of Athletics and Recreation

“And that was Buddy, always looking to help someone else.”

Shaun Teevens ’82, younger brother

“He was our pillar of strength. He set the bar for all of us early on.”

Tim Murphy, former Harvard football coach and friend from boyhood

“He was the fiercest competitor, and, most importantly, the most loyal friend.”

Doug Van Citters ’99, Thayer ’03, ’06, associate professor of engineering

“When Buddy was excited about something, you were excited about something.”

Baseball caps that read "Tx, BT"
Dartmouth caps distributed at the celebration of life included an homage to Teevens based on how he would sign his text messages and emails. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League

“Coach T came to the table with solutions to make the game safer and, ultimately, better.”

Murry Bowden ’71, All-American, member of College Football Hall of Fame

“He always had an open mind … His life had meaning, purpose, and impact.”

Archie Manning, Manning Academy, former NFL quarterback

“He was a kind and decent man who always tried to do the right thing.”

Reggie Williams ’76, NFL Man of the Year 1986, member of College Football Hall of Fame

“He always encouraged us to stand firm in what we believed and have an unrelenting spirit.”

Callie Brownson, Cleveland Browns assistant coach, first Division 1 female football coach

“It was Buddy’s statement to the football world that times were changing. And if you loved this game, you deserved to be part of it. It opened the door for so many women to add to their list of future aspirations that they wanted to be a Division l football coach.”

Curt Oberg ’78, special assistant to the head coach and former teammate

“He was a maker of memories that have lasted a lifetime.”

Charlotte Albright