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‘Super Dave’ hopes to instruct, inspire at Triton High

June 21, 2018

At Triton High School, Dave Coburn answers to two names.

“I doubt many folks have a Dave. Most folks call him super Dave,” T.J. Morrison, the school’s basketball coach and assistant track coach, said.

Coburn volunteers year-round to help the school’s track and field team.

“I enjoy the kids, just working with the kids,” Coburn said.

“He’s good for the kids and good for the coaches,” Morrison said. “Sometimes, I feel like he’s coaching us and helping us.”

Most at Triton say Coburn simply makes them better.

“When I was an athlete here at Triton, I lined up at the line and he said, ‘Let’s go Patrick. Don’t be last.’ And that’s all I can think about,” former Triton runner Patrick McNeill said.

“My favorite thing is when our track coach Canterburry gets out of line, Dave pops him with the stick a little bit,” Morrison said.

The stick is what helps Coburn get around. He’s been blind for 20 years.

“I was involved in a chemical accident at a local chemical company here in Dunn, and that’s when I lost my sight,” Coburn said. “I actually had sight in one eye for 12 1/2 years, then I got an infection and lost that.”

Based on how he coaches, though, the average person might not know Coburn is dealing with a disability.

“My focus is more on listening as opposed to seeing,” Coburn said. “Sometimes when you just see, you can get distracted.”

People who spend time with Coburn say his ability to know those around him is incredible.

“Sometimes, he knew a kid just by the way he breathed,” Morrison said. “He knew the kid by the way he ran or walked.”

“It’s amazing to me how he can hear a kid’s gate, know how a kid runs and know his name,” Triton physical education teacher Josh Canterbury said.

Coburn’s ability extend beyond the track, too.

“I drive Dave, I bring him to practice and I take him home,” Philip Abruscato, the school’s cross country coach, said. “Well get to yacking so much that I’ll miss a turn, and he’ll say, ‘Hey, you just missed our turn.’ It’s like, how did he know that?”

Coburn said his goal is to give people more perspective on life.

“My goal is to get each person that I coach to a better level to help them improve not only in their sport, but how they see life,” he said.

Coburn is among the finalists for the Stuart Scott Courage Award to be awarded June 23 at the inaugural HighSchoolOT Honors event at Raleigh’s Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets are still available for the ESPYs-inspired event which will be hosted by WRAL TV’s Jeff Gravley and HighSchoolOT’s Nick Stevens. Carolina Panthers’ linebacker Thomas Davis will join Gravley and Stevens on-stage for a Q&A.

Awards will be presented in 23 sports plus the Stuart Scott Courage Award, Coaches of the Year, Athletes of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award and more!