The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School softball team suffered a far greater loss this year than any regular season defeat. After a 35-year teaching and coaching career at MVRHS, seven-year head softball coach Donald Herman officially retired at the end May. This fall, Coach Herman retired as the head football coach after 31-year career on the gridiron.

The sudden death of fellow teacher Arthur Cormier in 2011 was the catalyst for Coach Herman’s decision to retire. Diagnosed with cancer months after retiring from MVRHS, Mr. Cormier died young at age 56.

“I’m just thinking to myself, here’s a guy who was my age, all excited about retiring but never had a chance to enjoy it,” Coach Herman, 57, said. “All of my kids are out of college and done with school. I just feel that the time is right and I want the opportunity to enjoy retirement.”

Coach Herman started his softball career 17 years ago, helping out with his daughter’s third-grade softball team. In 2007 he became the JV coach at the high school, and took over as head coach in 2010. Coaching his daughter and the nucleus of girls she grew up playing with remains one of his proudest achievements.

Coach Herman lost his core talent-feeding program when Vineyard Youth Softball folded in the mid-2000s. Working with freshman and sophomores in high school who never played competitive softball before required a new set of skills.

“What’s happening now is that when the kids are playing softball, they’re basically coming into an instructional league,” he said. “Some of the girls we receive played baseball growing up and need to re-learn a whole new skill set.”

Coach Herman developed one of those players, Emily Turney, into an all star. Turney played four years of varsity softball, earning Eastern Athletic Conference All-Star honors each year.

The softball team finished their season at 6-12 this year, but Coach Herman said he admired his team’s performance.

“Our schedule was very respectable and four of the games we lost were by a total of six runs,” he said. Eight of the ten schools on their schedule qualified for playoffs.

Coach Herman credits his legacy to five basic “ingredients.” A passion for the game, a willingness to learn, organization, good communication skills and the strength to never compromise one’s beliefs are all a coach needs to succeed, he said.

“I’ve been [coaching] for 35-plus years and there’s still stuff I learn,” he said. “You can never learn enough.”

Still in great physical shape, the former softball and football coach wants to keep learning and keep competing. This summer he plans to compete in his first “Tough Mudder” challenge with a group of MVRHS students. The 10-plus mile obstacle competition takes place on June 18 at Vermont’s Mount Snow. But aside from physical accomplishments, there is one thing that excites him the most.

“I want to be a grandpa,” he said with a laugh.

All three of Coach Herman’s children graduated from MVRHS in the top-six of their classes. Two of his children graduated from the University of Connecticut while his oldest son graduated from the University of North Carolina.

Looking forward to traveling and watching his family prosper, Coach Herman sees a bright future ahead of him during retirement.