Anyone who has spent much time around Carbon County, probably knows coach Paul Dupin. He and his wife Charlene are more than just former coaches and teachers, they are also “super fans”. They can be found sitting at Carbon High or USU-Eastern taking in games whenever they can.
With all the time spent on court and around ball fields, it was a freak accident last summer at a baseball game that almost took Paul out of the game for good.
The Dupins were in St. George watching their grandchildren play in a baseball tournament. With their backs to another field, a foul ball struck Paul in the neck as he sat in a lawn chair. Charlene looked over at him and asked if he had just been hit. By then, he was slumped over and does not remember much after that. He was taken to Dixie Medical Center and treated.
The impact left swelling the size of a baseball that would eventually be surgically removed. Paul was unable to walk much for almost two months. Charlene also feels like the stress of that and other family medical issues, contributed to a small stroke. He had to sleep with ice packs around his neck for weeks.
Paul coached for 30 years at everything from basketball, baseball, football and track. He prides himself in being a no non-sense coach. He expected his players to be tough. Charlene was also a coach in basketball, swimming, tennis, track, drill team and cheerleading. She was athletic director for Carbon High for years. Together, they raised their girls to be tough athletes.
Paul recalls a story about one of his daughters hurting her leg in a championship game. He told her to get in and play. It turned out later that she had a stress fracture, but she toughed it out and finished the game. Her team won the championship.
Another daughter had been slammed to the ground by an opponent during a basketball game. Paul was sitting in the stands and yelled at her to “get up and play.” She yelled back, “you’re not my body!” He still laughs about that to this day.
But it was that toughness his daughters were taught that helped him get back on his feet after his injury. When Paul was struggling with his balance and could not raise his arm to help himself, his daughter Pam told him, “just get tough. There are no pity parties in this house. You taught us all to be tough.”
He had no choice but to live up to his words. He now walks four miles every day. Charlene sends him out with a list of errands to do. He heads into the bank, the grocery store and pays bills.
Considering that he has had two previous concussions from auto accidents, it is remarkable that he can still remember most details about each student or athlete he has worked with over the years. He has regained much of what was lost, except he struggles with names. He asks that if anyone who comes up to talk to him, please state a name.
Paul has returned to watch both his grandchildren and the local athletes play sports. He was a little fearful the first time he went back to a baseball field, but not anymore. He and Charlene are looking forward to watching their grandchildren for a long time to come.