In early May, the Shippensburg University family lost one of the major faces of sports at the University. On May 3, 2016, SU’s legendary men’s basketball coach Rodger Goodling peacefully passed away at the age of 79 in his home in Carlisle.
Goodling loved the game of basketball. Not only was he a mainstay at SU, he also coached long before making the transition to the collegiate level. Goodling started his basketball-coaching career at Camp Curtin Junior High School. Goodling then moved on to William Penn High School in Harrisburg. His 1969-1970 team at William Penn was extremely successful, posting a 25-1 record. The team also won a PIAA District 3 Championship the same year.
Goodling then moved on to SU, where he coached for 31 years, from 1970-2001. Goodling coached four Academic All-Americans at SU, and many players he coached became coaches themselves after their playing careers. In 1991, SU won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) title. Goodling was awarded with PSAC Coach of the Year for his efforts from the sideline in 1991. He was also the only coach to receive the PSAC Coach of the Year award in both the Eastern and Western Division, since SU was a member of the Eastern Division until 1987.
Goodling’s love for basketball went beyond the bench, as he played the game long before becoming a coach. Goodling played high school basketball at William Penn High School in York, and then went on to play at York Junior College. Goodling then played at Lock Haven University. While a member of the York Junior College team, Goodling led the nation with a 92 percent free-throw percentage. Goodling went on to earn a Master’s Degree at Temple University.
Goodling also had a strong love for golf. When he retired from SU, Goodling was able to enjoy golfing. He enjoyed teeing off at the Carlisle Country Club, where he played golf with many different friends. He had six hole-in-ones at the Carlisle Country Club over the years. Over the last 15 years, Goodling and his wife, Sandra, spent their winters in Naples, Florida. Goodling developed friends on the golf course as well as the bocce court in Florida.
Other remarkable feats of Goodling’s life include running 12 marathons. Goodling believed in having great personal fitness, which included his participation in the Harrisburg, Gettysburg, Marine Corp and the New York Marathon, as well as other marathons. Goodling ran the New York Marathon twice.
Goodling was extremely devoted to his family and leaves behind his wife Sandra, to whom he was married 42 years. Goodling also had two sons, Steve of Newport Beach, California and Craig of Naples, Florida. He also had two daughters, Kate Walker of York, Pennsylvania and Abbye Dalton of Atlanta, Georgia. Goodling also had four grandchildren and a brother, Warren, and two sisters, Beth Moul and Nancy Knouse.
Goodling was quoted saying that he was just another teacher, and that his classroom was the gym. Goodling strived to teach his players values and ethics, along with the game of basketball.
Goodling leaves behind a huge legacy at SU, where he is the all-time leader in wins by a men’s basketball coach with 356 wins, 212 more than any other coach in SU history. Goodling also has a scholarship named after him, The Rodger Goodling Basketball Scholarship, which was established in 2001 after his retirement to provide student athletes with opportunities, as well as recognize Goodling for his service to student athletes at SU.
Goodling will be missed at SU, where he has permanently left his mark on the basketball program.
Last year was a very successful one for the Raiders, as they made a run in the PSAC Playoffs before being defeated by Mercyhurst University in the PSAC Semifinals. SU will look to come back next year to build on this year’s success.