Doughty ’74 leads Skowhegan field hockey to state title and gives one man a better shot at surviving leukemia
Paula Doughty ’74, who was named high school field hockey coach of the year by the National Federation of State High School Associations in 2008 and coach of the year by the National High School Coaches Association in 2004, led the Skowhegan Area High School field hockey team to the 2011 State Class A title — the program’s 10th state title in the past 11 years under Doughty — when the Indians defeated Marshwood High School, 5-0, on Saturday, Oct. 29, in Yarmouth.
If not the shutout, perhaps what made this state championship victory so unusual was the weather, as Doughty’s team dominated during the onset of an October Nor’easter that by storm’s end left as much as 17 inches of snow in parts of Maine. “It’s my first snowstorm I’ve ever coached in,” she told the Morning Sentinel.
And, unbeknownst to most, Doughty underwent a physically draining stem-cell donation procedure during the team’s undefeated season. As reported by the Morning Sentinel, Doughty months ago donated a vial of blood at a stem-cell drive, after one of her family members with cancer received a stem-cell transplant. She later learned she was a match for a man in his 50s stricken with leukemia. After passing a battery of tests, proving she could withstand the debilitating donation procedure, Doughty began to give the gift of hope.
“The process is, you go in for six days, and you get Neupogen shots every day,” she told the Morning Sentinel. “Basically, what it does — it’s like when you come down with the flu. Your neck aches. Your back aches. Your hips ache. Your joints ache. In real time, that is the white blood cells coming out of your body to fight off the flu.
“So every day, when I got that shot, that’s exactly how I would feel. I was tired. I had a dull headache all the time. It was basically like having the flu for six days.”
Within 12 hours of the harvest procedure, the recipient had Doughty’s DNA coursing through his body. “And that person has gone through chemo, so that they have absolutely no immune system left,” she said. “They start over, and they’re now me. They have my DNA, they have my blood, and they have my immune system.”
And within 24 hours of the day-long harvest procedure, Doughty was coaching the Skowhegan Indians to a win over the Lawrence Bulldogs.
“She’s going to do whatever she damn well pleases,” Doughty’s husband, John, told the Morning Sentinel. “There have been times, over the last 25 years, when she’s been so sick she couldn’t go on the bus. I followed the bus in a car, bringing her so she could lay down and sleep in the back seat. So I knew she was going to coach. Absolutely no question about that.”
Doughty, who has notched 420 career victories and led the Indians to 36 consecutive wins, teaches social studies at Skowhegan Area High School.
Read more about her latest state championship victory and how she gave one man battling cancer the gift of hope.