To say that Doug Hamilton was an outstanding player, a successful coach, and an extraordinary corporate executive would not be enough. He was all of those and more. He was a loyal friend, a loving son and brother, and a devoted husband and father. He was born Douglas Michael Hamilton, but to those who knew him best he was “Dougie” or simply “H”.
Soccer folks often use the term “passion” to describe their love for the game and Doug had passion. He was also a fierce competitor who didn’t just embrace challenges, he attacked them. His many contributions to the game and to those he touched in his private and professional life warrant the distinction of being inducted (posthumously) as a member of the tenth class of the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame on this, the six day of January, 2007. Doug’s wife, Paige, son Aedan, and brother Stephen, will represent Doug at the induction ceremony.
Doug grew up playing soccer in Hazlet, New Jersey. He came South to UNC Greensboro to continue his education and to play the game he loved at a higher level. As a freshman he helped the Spartans win the NCAA Division III national championship. After two years in Greensboro, he decided that the next challenge might be Division I, so he moved to Florida, playing one season with Stetson University. However, he soon realized that his heart was back in Greensboro, and he came back to UNCG and as a senior captain led the Spartans to another national title.
While still a student, his work with youth teams and young players set him on a new direction as a soccer coach. Doug served as an assistant at both UNC Greensboro and Duke University, but it was the challenge he accepted at Greensboro College which reflected the depth of his commitment to achievement. He took a men’s soccer program that had never before had a championship season, and in four years (1987-90) posted a 59-24-4 record. His 1989 team (17-3) reached the national championship game.
His career as a coach would not be a long one as another challenge came calling. Doug began to climb the corporate ladder with adidas. He spent six years with that company rising to positions that included national Business Unit Manager of soccer and basketball to Director of Sports Marketing in Latin America. In 1997, he earned recognition from adidas International and adidas America by winning the Global Business Unit of the Year and the Soccer Business Unit of the Year awards, respectively.
But more challenges lay ahead. After leaving adidas Doug became a consultant with the MLS Miami Fusion. Consulting became a fulltime job and he then became the club’s General Manager. Under his two-year guidance the Fusion’s performance on the field dramatically improved as did attendance at Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium.
The Fusion’s improvement was not enough to save the franchise and it was disbanded by the league in 2002. Doug was named the President and General Manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy. This position presented another challenge and opportunity and over the next four years he won three consecutive MLS Executive of the Year awards (2003, 2004, 2005). This is an award that now bears Doug’s name.
In 2005 the Galaxy won “the Domestic Double” sweeping the MLS Cup as well as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Galaxy qualified for the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
In early March of 2006, Doug accompanied the Galaxy to Costa Rica for the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals. Shortly after departure to return home to Los Angeles he suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 43 on March 9.
In an article written about Doug after his death, Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl may have said it best when he wrote “American soccer has lost one of its brightest young lights, the three-time reigning MLS executive of the year, an all-around good guy who acutely understood the realities of soccer in this country (you must put “butts” in the seats) yet always remained relentlessly personable, human, in his dealings with members of the U.S. soccer community.”