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Dennis Lampley, legendary Trinity football coach who won 5 state titles, dies



Dennis Lampley, legendary Trinity football coach who won 5 state titles, dies


Correction: In a previous version of this story, Rob Mullen was misidentified. He is Trinity High School’s president.

For Brad Lampley, there was no separation between his family and Trinity High School.

The two were one and the same. It’s the kind of culture his father, Dennis, created during his nearly five decades with the school.

The Lampley-Trinity family is now collectively grieving the loss of its giant.

Dennis Lampley, the Shamrocks’ former head football coach and athletics director, died at age 80 after several years of battling Alzheimer’s disease, Brad announced on social media early Wednesday. He’s survived by his wife, Brenda, children Brad and Brandee, and six grandchildren.

Trinity High School President Rob Mullen called Lampley one of the most beloved teachers and coaches to have ever worked at the school.

“Beyond wins and state titles, his loving heart was his greatest gift to us,” Mullen wrote in a statement to The Courier Journal. “I am just one of thousands who will attest to the profoundly positive impact he had on our lives.”

Robert Sampson, who graduated from Trinity in 2005, also expressed his sentiments on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“No words can do justice to the influence Dennis Lampley had on me since our paths first crossed 24 years ago,” Sampson wrote. “Valued memories, countless hours of knowledge imparted, unwavering support and a model of excellence that will have lasting impact for years to come.”

Born and raised in Burns, Tennessee, Dennis Lampley played football at Austin Peay. He came to Trinity in 1971 and served as a defensive coordinator. He won four state titles as part of the Shamrocks’ assistant coaching staff before assuming the head coaching position in 1978. After two seasons, Lampley burnt out on football but stayed in coaching as an assistant track coach and head golf coach at Trinity. His success followed him on the green, winning a state title with the program.

“I don’t know how much he really knew about golf,” Brad told The Courier Journal. “But you know what? He knew a lot about how to motivate young men.”

Coaching other sports reignited Dennis Lampley’s love for football. He returned to the sport in 1985 and won a Class 4A state title that year. Over the next nine seasons, he won four more titles (1988-90, 1994). Lampley’s three consecutive titles came via a state-record 50-game winning streak between 1988 and 1991.

Brad got to experience his father as a football coach when he played offensive tackle for Trinity in the 1990s. Nepotism was far from a thing, but Brad said the way Dennis coached him shaped the way he’s parented his son, Jackson Lampley, an offensive lineman at the University of Tennessee. Also impacted by Dennis, Jackson wore No. 50 when he first got to Tennessee in honor of the Shamrocks’ 50-game winning streak.

“It was hard because he was very demanding and tough,” said Brad, who blocked for Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning during his time as a Volunteer. “He expected me to be a leader. I don’t think any of my teammates ever thought it was one of those deals where I would get any favoritism. If anything, it was probably the other way around. But I loved the experience of playing for him. It was one of the great experiences of my life. I would not change a thing. It impacted so much in terms of the way I am as a father and my relationships with my children and so forth.”

During his time leading the Shamrocks, Lampley compiled a 138-21 record. Lampley hung up his whistle in 1994, going out as a state champion. Trinity beat Boone County, 21-7.

Lampley became Trinity’s athletics director in 1998 and held the position for 16 years. During that time, he hired Bob Beatty, who won 15 state titles as the Shamrocks’ head football coach, and Mike Szabo, who won two boys basketball state titles before resigning last season because of health issues.

Lampley retired in 2014, spending nearly five decades with the Shamrocks in different capacities. He was a two-time Hall of Famer after being inducted in the KHSAA Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. Trinity’s basketball court is also named after him. Aside from sports, Lampley was on the board of directors for the Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

Brad Lampley knows that one day someone will rewrite the school and state records his father set at Trinity. That’s why, when reflecting on Dennis’ life, those aren’t the first things that come to his mind. What sticks out most is the way his father integrated Trinity into his family. Dennis did it in an intentional-yet-subtle way.

“Some coaches refer to players as kids and he … referred to them as young men,” Brad said. “He understood the fact that what he was trying to do was shape and mold men into becoming, one day, good fathers and good husbands. A lot of coaches talk about that, but how many of them really do it?

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think to myself (about) the lessons that I learned playing for Dad and how I apply those in the business world, or my relationships with friends or colleagues.”

Louisville coach Jeff Brohm, who was part of Trinity’s state title in 1988, shared the same sentiments.

“While our sport was football, the game he coached was life,” Brohm posted on X. “We had a special bond and I leaned on him often for wisdom and advice. He was a tremendous leader and motivator and could inspire anyone to be their best at whatever endeavor they pursued. He was my friend and so important to our family. … I hope I can be half the man and half the coach he was. Rest in peace, coach Lampley.”

Even after Brohm graduated from Trinity, Lampley kept in touch with him and came to some of Brohm’s games and practices when he coached at Purdue. Brohm added that whenever he came into town, he’d make sure to stop by and see his former coach.

When Brohm came back to Louisville to coach, Lampley and his wife attended his introductory news conference. Although Lampley had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, having him there meant the world to Brohm.

Lampley’s presence was a testament to his lifelong belief of treating his Trinity High School players like family.

“As we get older and wiser and more mature, you realize those special relationships don’t happen all the time, and you cherish them,” Brohm said. “I just think all players and students who had the opportunity to be around coach Lampley vividly remember a lot of good times and a lot of good memories.”

Visitation for Dennis Lampley will be held 2-7 p.m. Friday at Pearson Funeral Home. Trinity High School will host the funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday in Steinhauser Gymnasium. Interment will follow at Cave Hill Cemetery. After that, there will be a reception at Trinity’s Communication Arts Center.

Reach Louisville football, women’s basketball and baseball beat writer Alexis Cubit at and follow her on X at @Alexis_Cubit.

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