Terry Darling has been involved in Spring Arbor University Athletics for over four decades, playing on the team from 1975-78 before serving as the head Men's Tennis Coach since 1980.
"Playing tennis as a student at Spring Arbor College from 1975-78 under Coach Charlie Carey was a rich and rewarding experience that helped me to develop as a Christian man," said Darling. "When I got the incredible opportunity to become the head coach of the men's tennis team at the tender age of 23, I saw this as an amazing opportunity to help do for other generations of athletes what Coach Carey had done for me. Watching 18-year-old boys transform into Christian men during their time at Spring Arbor has been one of the great joys of my life."
Coach Carey spoke on the history of Terry Darling saying, "Two faculty members, Dr. Harold Darling and Dr. Daryl Moore became interested in the game and passed on their enthusiasm for the game to son's Terry Darling and Royal Moore. Their high school did not offer a competitive program in tennis, but they practiced many hours against each other and played in some local tournaments. I was happy to recruit these two buddies. Terry was a left-handed player who initially served with his right hand. Terry and Royal at a doubles match helped SAC beat Cedarville (a nationally ranked Ohio team in the NAIA)."
Coach Carey explained, "When my two children became actively involved in school activities, I decided to pass the baton on to Terry (then a graduate student and new faculty member at SAC). He became a great coach and had many successful players (my son-in-law and two grandsons included)."
Under Darling's direction, the SAU Head Men's Tennis Program has accumulated over 400 wins and numerous NCCAA/NAIA All-American players. On the court, Coach Darling led Spring Arbor to the 1997 WHAC Championship, a 2011 MCC Championship, and three NCCAA National Tournaments.
Along with Terry Darling's team success, he has claimed several coaching awards. Those including the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Coach of the Year in 1997 and 1999, and Mid-Central Conference (MCC) Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2011. He also received NAIA Region VIII Coach of the Year honors in 2007 and ITA East Region Coach of the Year in 2012.
"Through all my years of coaching I have been blessed to have some amazing assistant coaches including Steve Schippers (who started our women's tennis program after being my assistant coach for several years) and Bobby Pratt, who also assisted me before becoming the head coach of our women's tennis program," mentioned Darling. "But most notable has been my assistant coach of 27 years, Todd Dobben. I doubt that I would have been able to sustain my coaching career for this long without Todd's able assistance for almost three decades."
Athletic Director, Ryan Cottingham pays tribute on Terry Darling's influence by saying, "Coach Darling is an extraordinary human being who has impacted countless lives at SAU and beyond. A devoted follower of Jesus Christ, Coach Darling has been an incredible role model for our student-athletes, coaches, and community members."
As Darling passes along his legacy, he mentions, "I am at the point in my career where I want to make sure that I am leaving my team and my players in good hands. I am convinced that this is the exact right time for a coaching change to happen and I can think of no better person to hand over this responsibility to than to my son, David, who has been the Director of Tennis at SAU and has been taking on more and more administrative responsibilities every year for the men's program."
As David Darling elaborates on his father's tenure, he exclaims, "My dad has been the SAU men's tennis coach my entire life so when he approached me about this potential change, it was surprising but encouraging. Surprising because I don't know a world where my dad isn't the head tennis coach. Encouraging because I know he has had a wonderful career as a coach. He has impacted so many lives on and off the court, none more than my brother's and mine. I had the privilege of playing for him for four years at SAU, but it doesn't even remotely compare to the honor it's been being his son. He is the epitome of a Christ-loving husband, father, professor, and coach and I am so glad I've had the opportunity to learn and be molded by him. I'm excited for the next chapter for SAU men's tennis and am thrilled to be able to step into his role and use my knowledge to continue where he left off. Coaching for over 40 years is an incredible accomplishment and while he has impressive accolades as a coach, the real measure of his time at SAU are the lives he has changed."
"My hope is to continue to be David's assistant (along with Coach Dobben) for the men's tennis program so I will not be walking away from this important part of my life, just handing over the leadership to David," said Terry Darling.
Spring Arbor University would like to thank Coach Darling for his unwavering dedication and commitment to excellence.