After Preston Dockter talked about the Pahrump Valley High School softball team he coached last spring, he wanted a favor.
“Be sure to say that my wife, Katie, and my parents have been highly supportive and that has to benefit me,” said Dockter, on the eve of the Trojans playing in a season-opening tournament at River Valley, Ariz., in early April.
The Trojans went on to give the rookie coach a marvelously successful season. They shared the regular-season Class 3A Southern League title with Faith Lutheran, then knocked out the Crusaders in the regionals to advance to the state tournament at Bishop Manogue in Reno.
The Trojans didn’t win the title, but with a 30-9 record, there was no reason for anyone to complain about the job “Dock” did last spring.
Dockter knew his way around the fields of competition, having played football and baseball and competed as a wrestler for the Trojans. He went to Mayville State University in North Dakota, where he played football for four years.
He met Katie while in college, and they were married in June 2007. A son, Zach, is due in three weeks, and a baby shower was held at their home in Pahrump on Saturday.
Dockter and a couple of longtime friends decided to leave the house. On their return home, Dockter’s new motorcycle crashed on East Calvada Boulevard, and the 24-year-old was killed.
“It is so sad for his family, his wife, who is going to have a son, and thousands of other kids he would have mentored and have a positive influence on, as a teacher, as a coach and as a friend,” Pahrump Valley football coach Leo Verzilli said. “He was so excited to be a coach. He had found what he wanted to do with his life.”
Dockter, who was born in Bismarck, N.D., lived in Pahrump for 14 years. He graduated from Pahrump Valley High in 2002, went to college in North Dakota and later returned to the valley to start his life as a family man and a professional educator.
Dockter taught history. One day, he had his students sit in the stands in the gym during a basketball tournament. Their assignment: to write an essay on what they had witnessed. It was a way to get them involved in a current event, and not something they had read in a textbook.
Verzilli was named head coach last spring, and one of the first things he did was hire Dockter — who had been the head coach at Rosemary Clarke Middle School in 2007 — as his defensive coordinator.
“He was so great to work with,” Verzilli said. “He set the terminology for our defensive schemes, and he worked on game plans each week. He was in charge, but ‘Dock’ always came to me and asked, ‘What do you think about this?’ What a wonderful kid he was.”
Funeral services for Dockter are scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday on the football field at Pahrump Valley High. Eulogies will be presented by Craig Rieger, who coached Dockter in wrestling, and Rich Lauver, who was the head softball coach in 2006 when Dockter served as an assistant.