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 BY JEFF FALK

 PHOTOS SUBMITTED

 Charlie Middleton didn’t seek the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t like people.

 Or that he wasn’t a good coach. Or that he didn’t touch lives. Or that he didn’t make an impact.

  In fact, it was nothing short of amazing what Middleton was able to accomplish behind the scenes.

 On Friday, April 19th, Middleton passed away at home surrounded by his family. He died of complications of cancer at the age of 81.

 Middleton was a husband, a father and a friend. But in the world of Lebanon County sports, he will always be remembered as a coach, in the purest sense of the concept.

 Middlton coached girls’ basketball at many spots around the county for many years, mostly as a developmental assistant on the lower levels. He will be rememberd most for his work with the Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball’s Catholic Youth Organization seventh- and eighth-grade programs at the former St. Mary’s/Our Lady of the Valley school in Lebanon.

 “I think he enjoyed teaching younger kids who didn’t know how to play basketball,” said Patti Hower, who coached along side Middleton at the CYO level before becoming Lebanon Catholic’s head varsity coach. “He enjoyed teaching the fundamentals.

 “He taught those girls we had on the (19)92 and (19)95 state championship teams,” continued Hower. “When they moved up to the high school level, they had a good solid base.”

 For a period of 15 seasons from 1977 to 1992, Middleton worked with Lebanon Catholic’s up-and-coming players at St. Mary’s/Our Lady of the Valley. During those years, Middleton developed a certain rapport with Hower, more because of a similarity in ideaologies than some sort of directive.

 Middleton’s player development allowed Hower to do more strategizing than teaching, once the players reached the varsity and JV levels.

 “It was a good working relationship,” said Hower. “The best thing was that we had that continuity. He knew what I wanted. We were on the same page. He really emphasized defense. Our philosophies were the same. He supported what I did. He tried to get the kids ready for me.

 “He understood the game,” Hower continued. “He knew at the seventh- and eighth-grade levels what they needed. The kids loved him. He gave constructive criticism. They listened to him. They wanted to play for him.”

 After leaving St. Mary’s/Our Lady of the Valley, Middleton assisted head coach Peg Kauffman with the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball program in the early 1990s. Middleton also served as the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball head coach for a short time, beginning in 1994, and helped bring AAU basketball to Lebanon County, in the form of the ‘Millenium Mills’, in the early 2000s.

 “He was the head coach at Northern Lebanon for a short period,” said Hower. “I don’t know why he didn’t spend more time as a head coach. Maybe he related better to the younger kids.

 “He would use the word ‘fundamentals’ all the time,” added Hower. “That was his big thing. He was into it.”

 Middleton was also a fan of the game. More recently, he became a fixture at local scholastic and collegiate games, perched on the front row of the bleachers, at mid-court, on the opposite side of the team benches.

 “I couldn’t come up with a number on the lives he touched,” said Hower. “On the CYO level, almost everyone in the school plays CYO basketball. He impacted a lot of the girls who went through Lebanon Catholic. He was just a great person.”

 In addition to the fundamentals, Middleton also stressed sportsmanship, team work and the importance of academics. As a person, he was loyal, down-to-earth and a bit of a character.

 “He always had other people’s best interests at heart,” said Hower. “He loved to talk, and not just about basketball. He was a very Catholic person, which is something we wanted. He was well-rounded. He liked other sports. And he followed the careers of his former players.

 “If you went to games, you’d see Charlie a lot of the times,” Hower added. “We’ll miss seeing him around. He was always sitting in the front row.”

 In 2007, Middleton and his wife Susie founded a successful golf outing to benefit the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, where he was a parishoner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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