As many of you already know, I have served as the Sports Editor here at the News Journal since late 2013. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much sports to be discussed lately thanks to COVID, but that should be changing soon.
In the near future we are hoping to bring you a 2020 high school football season preview section, same as we do each year. COVID numbers are beginning to level off again, and will hopefully begin to trend downward in the coming days, so I don’t think that anything is going to prevent fall athletics from being able to officially start on the current target date of September 9. With that being said, this is still very much a day-to-day proposition, but things are looking good from where we currently stand.
More on football and other fall sports later, though. This week I want to talk about a few coaching changes that have taken place in our coverage area in recent weeks.
You might have seen on our website a couple of weeks ago that Williamsburg boys basketball head coach Nick Napier has decided to step down, and is currently pursuing other opportunities. Nick has done a fantastic job leading the Yellow Jackets in recent years, and I have enjoyed working with him immensely. He was always an incredibly pleasant person to be around, and I wish him the best in whatever the future may hold.
As for who will become the next WHS boys basketball head coach, only time will tell. My guess is several folks have already applied, or have at least expressed interest in applying, and we will probably hear something on that front sooner rather than later.
Another great coach who has decided to step down recently is none other than Lynn Camp boys basketball head coach Dinky Phipps. Phipps had already established his coaching legacy at Barbourville long before making his way to Lynn Camp, and during his time leading the Wildcats he has helped the program reach new heights, regularly contending for 13th Region All “A” championship titles, and becoming a real threat in the 51st District.
Replacing Phipps beginning with the 2020-2021 season will be Rodney Clarke, who served as the head coach of the Lady Cats basketball team last season. Clarke has a lot of experience in the sport. He’s enthusiastic, and seems to be well-liked by just about everyone who has had interactions with him. I personally think he is a great fit for this position, and will do a fantastic job moving forward.
Of course, Clarke’s departure from the girls’ basketball program at LCHS means an opening is now available for someone else to step in and take the helm there. As of this writing I have not heard who that person will be, but again, we will probably find out sooner rather than later.
Moving on to the sport of softball, I think we are not far away from learning who will be the next head coach of the Corbin Lady Hounds. Former head coach Dana White recently moved with her husband and young son back to her home state of Texas. I was sad to hear that she was leaving, as I have had a lot of fun getting to know Dana since she began coaching at Corbin, but I kind of figured that she would want to return home at some point, so her departure didn’t necessarily come as a great surprise to me.
I really liked the approach that Dana took during her time leading the Lady Hounds, and I think that, for the most part, her players really responded to her in a positive way, and respected her many past accomplishments in the sport of softball. It will be interesting to see who will be taking over the program from here, but with the Corbin youth program up and going again, this is one position in particular where the future is looking very bright.
Finally, I saw a Facebook post a few days ago where Whitley County tennis coach Kaitlin Ayers has announced that she is stepping down. Ayers has been a big part of WCHS tennis for several years now, both as an assistant and a head coach, and has been on hand for some of the biggest achievements in the program’s history. Same as with all the other names mentioned previously, I wish her nothing but the best of luck, and I look forward to seeing who will be named as her replacement in the near future.
I think that about covers the biggest sports news of the moment, unless there has been another announcement that I somehow missed. I know that many of you are counting down the days until the return of sports, and I’m right there with you. Hopefully we will all see each other at the field and in the gym soon!