1975 - 1977 Gordon Alderson, RAF
Assistant Coach Fall 1974 - Spring 1975
Head Coach Fall 1975 - Spring 1977
From Roger Smith, '77: Gordon filled a void after Coach Tex Byrd PCSd from USAFA in 1975. I don’t think he ever really wanted the Zoomie head coach position, but he was really the only one at the time who could step in.
He was a political science instructor, published a number of excellent academic articles, was trying to keep his career in the RAF on track, had two small children at home, and was stretched to the maximum. Nevertheless, he was a conscientious coach who served us well.
Our senior year, he organized and coordinated, completely on his own, a trip for us to England. He coordinated with the RAF for transportation, handled everything from busses to meals and lodging, and scheduled two games for us against RAF Cranwell and the Durham County side. He contacted the American Embassy who gave us a great tour of London and he arranged for us to visit George Washington’s ancestral home. It was an incredible trip for a kid from backwater Virginia who had never left the United States.
Gordon was a quintessential conservative British gentleman with one foot solidly in the ideals of the early twentieth century and one toe in the fast moving twenty-first. He likewise expected young men to be gentlemen and respectful. Of course those dynamics didn’t always mix well with many Zoomies who found the rugby pitch offered ventilation from the rigors of cadet life.
Gordon Alderson was a paradox in the annals of Zoomie Rugby, but to me he offered a life lesson. After all, USAFA exists only to develop leaders for the defense of our nation. What better example of a leader than one who has the courage to stand on his convictions against the prevailing wind?
Although he lacked the ability to balance seriousness with frivolity, as Coach Tex Byrd did before him and my classmate and friend Barney Ballinger did after him, he taught us a lot about life. I respect him for those lessons.
From Rich Carlson, '76: Gordon Alderson's teams at the Academy had great success under his steady guidance. And we had a lot of fun together, all the way to the ERRFU championship, where we won '76 Oly Cup
And from Barney Ballinger, '77: Gordon coached us through 1977. He did a great deal for Air Force rugby and worked hard to help us become better ruggers and better men/officers. He expended a tremendous amount of effort and invested a great deal of personal capital to set up a trip to the UK for us in the spring of 1977. In addition to matches with RAF Cranwell and Durham University, he arranged wonderful visits to RAF Uxbridge and George Washington’s ancestral home. He also arranged transport on RAF flights to/from Dulles and Brize-Norton. For many of us the trip was an eye opening opportunity of a lifetime. There was another side, to the trip, which I believe your have heard, but I choose to focus on the positive. I personally owe a great deal to Gordon and he will forever be a central part of my fond memories of Air Force rugby.