Soccer community comes together to replace coach’s best friend

Ty Stauffer’s name is synonymous with soccer. The Owensboro-based soccer coach and owner and operator of SportsTutor has been impacting the lives of generations of soccer players for the last 25 years. But when Stauffer recently lost a special family member, the SportsTutor community reached out in a special way.

Lola, the Stauffer family’s faithful goldendoodle of 10 years, was not only part of the family — but essentially part of the SportsTutor team. The Stauffer’s eldest daughter Rainesford originally purchased Lola for herself, but after Rainesford left for school, Ty and Lola quickly developed a bond.

“From early on, after we renovated in 2010, Lola was here a lot — four to five days a week in the summers,” Stauffer said. “Lola was a regular attendee in Crossfit class.”

Stauffer said Lola would spend the morning at the academy and remain in the “down-stay” position with “balls flying through the air.”

“That dog was amazing — she would do whatever I said,” Ty said. “I could be lining a soccer field 400 yards away and ask her to stay and she would.”

Stauffer’s wife Jennifer said the SportsTutor students and members looked just as forward to seeing Lola as they did to training.

“All the kids knew Lola. All the gym members knew Lola,” Jennifer said. “She was just kind of a staple here.”

Sadly, Lola was diagnosed with cancer and died the day after Christmas in 2018. While her loss was difficult for the entire family, it was especially difficult for Ty. So much so, that when the couple’s adult children came home for Christmas, they were concerned.

“Ty was devastated,” Jennifer said. “They were best buds — they spent all their time together.”

The family discussed finding another goldendoodle, but Ty said he was afraid that a dog of a similar breed would lead him to constantly make comparisons that another dog could not live up to.

In their search, Jennifer remembered an experience shortly before Lola died. She said Lola was notoriously fearful of certain things, including other dogs. Yet, one particular day, she approached another dog, a sheepadoodle, and affectionately went nose-to-nose with the dog.

“So we started looking at sheepadoodles because it was like Lola had given her approval,” Jennifer said.

While the family searched for a new friend and training partner for Ty, unbeknownst to him, the SportsTutor family began to work on a plan to help fill the void that was left behind.

“The parents were so concerned about Ty; they wanted to help him get another dog. I thought they were going to help us look, not donate money,” Jennifer said. “Our whole SportsTutor community rallied and wanted to give him another dog. That’s a lot of people being worried about him — they love him. It is truly like a big family.”

Jennifer said the parents presented the funds they had collected as a gift to Ty to purchase a new dog, but that he would never use the funds in that capacity. Instead, Ty put the money toward a scholarship in Lola’s name to assist students who might have difficulty affording lessons.

While the donated funds were used to help students, the couple was able to find a new puppy that met their needs, right outside of Nashville.

With one blue eye and one brown eye, Rory the Old English sheepdog is the newest member of the Stauffer and SportsTutor families. Jennifer said, according to myth, dogs that have two different colored eyes can see heaven. The Stauffers hope that is true, so that Lola can always remain a part of them.

Ty said he plans to train Rory so that she can provide the same faithful assistance that Lola did.

“My hope is that she would come and do what Lola did,” Ty said, “make people happy.”

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