When ordinary people hear the word fresh, they may think of fresh water, or fresh fruit, fresh out of college or fresh cookies. At Castleton State College though, the thought of fresh brings means none of the above. At Castleton, fresh means Douglas J. Phillips, known by most as D-Phresh, Dougie Phresh or more simply, Phresh.
It’s not too hard to forget Phresh. His long, dark, wavy hair flows out from underneath his light blue hat that reads, Phresh. You can usually find him wearing one of many long scarves he has collected over the years. Or you may have heard him screaming at the top of his lungs at a soccer game.
“I love soccer, that’s my favorite sport. I always go to the soccer games. I’m the loudest person there,” he said with a smile.
From a young age, Phresh gravitated toward anything athletic.
“My mom always said I learned how to run before I learned how to walk,” he said with a loud laugh.
“Phillips spent his summers at the beach club swimming in the pool and ocean and playing some tennis. He also really enjoyed paint ball and he and some neighborhood kids set up a course in the nearby woods,” said his older sister Christa Phillips.
“He was also really good at Skateboarding. Pretty much any physical activity, Doug excelled,” she added.
Phresh is an amazing swimmer. You can find him early mornings swimming in the school pool before his lifeguard duties begin. He was top 10 in his conference while attending Monmouth Regional High School.
But things weren’t always so great for Phresh. On Feb. 10, 2007, he found himself in a fight for his life.
“I was leaving my state swim meet and got hit head on by another car, like Jaws of Life, pronounced dead on the scene. I remember being in a lot of pain,” he said.
John Anderson, a life-long friend, remembers when he heard the news.
“I found out when I was coming home from a skiing trip to Vermont, and I really didn’t believe it. He’s like my best friend, I didn’t want to believe it,” he said in a somber tone.
Phresh suffered a broken spine at the T-9 and T-10 vertebrae. Doctors feared that he would be paralyzed from the waist down. Not one, but two surgery’s later, his back was fitted with rods, pins, and screws.
“They had to collapse my left lung in order to get the cage and pins in,” Phresh said.
His scars, along with his x-rays are a reminder of this horrible accident.
“My world came crashing down. At the time, they were pretty confident Doug would live, but that there was a very strong chance he would be paralyzed,” Christa said. “My brother was such a good athlete and physically oriented person I couldn’t wrap my head around him never walking again. This was the kid who would leap up six stairs in one bound just because he could and it drove my mom nuts.”
Against the odds, he walked, yes, walked out of inpatient care in 30 days. “They wanted me to use the walker, but I walked out with a cane.”
This was not the end of the road for his recovery though. Phresh had to wear a back brace to keep his spine from moving. It takes time for the metal rods, and pins to fuse with the bone.
He was expected to have a long recovery ahead of him, but within four months, he was walking in his high school graduation.
After the accident he took a new course in life. Instead of the athletic lifestyle, he turned to his other passion, making people laugh.
“I was always a funny kid, but after I broke my back I had to use my mind and my brain. I couldn’t rely on sports anymore.”
The majority of you may know Phresh from his stand up comedy at Pub Nights. He can make anyone laugh, and if you don’t think so, have a conversation with him.
“Phresh has a unique style of comedy. He’s a character and has a signature style,” said Castleton senior Ryan Baldinelli.
“When all these people were waiting for him (in the hospital), he asked my sister and I, ‘Are there any hot girls, can you send them in?’ Only Doug still barely able to move his toes would ask this question,” Christa said.
His ultimate goal is to be a professional comedian like his favorites George Carlin and Dave Chappelle.
But Phresh doesn’t only like to make people laugh. He is very involved with many clubs and the community. His last club, The Reef Check Club, went to St. Johns in the Virgin Islands to do volunteer scientific research. He’s also involved with Peer Advocates For Change, is a WIUV DJ and has been in school plays.
“Dougie is a very community oriented person and caring person,” said professor Robert Wuagneux.
He’s also well known by students.
“He can always put a smile on your face, or make you laugh that’s for sure,” said Gerritt Wesselink , a good friend of Phresh’s.
As he looks towards the future, he doesn’t dwell on the past. He appreciates life everyday and looks to make people laugh. His favorite joke to make people laugh is short and sweet.
“Never on time. But always on schedule.