Souder honored to receive Bill Vaught Memorial Area Coach of the Year award

Published 5:19 pm Friday, August 4, 2017

Mercer County girls’ basketball coach Chris Souder has done what no other area basketball coach has done: He has won a state championship.

But it’s more than just winning a state championship that stood out to Larry Vaught. Vaught selected Souder for the Bill Vaught Memorial Area Coach of the Year due to a stellar resume that goes beyond the win column.

“When you look at what Chris has accomplished throughout his career, and then you put on top of it the first coach in the area to win a state basketball championship, that made it pretty easy,” Larry said. “The other part of the award is based on character and the relationship the coach has with their players, the example they’ve set. Certainly, nobody has been better than that. It made it real easy for me to pick Chris.”

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Larry said the talent of the Titans was impressive, but how the team gelled on and off of the court was another standout attribute of Souder.

“What makes it even more amazing is how well they get along,” Larry said. “The fact that they’re all Mercer County girls, they’ve been playing together forever. The way they get along on the court — that’s the way it used to be. I haven’t heard one parent complain about them, which isn’t the norm. These girls always look happy for the other; that’s extremely rare. I know Chris won’t want to take credit for that, and a coach can’t do all of that, but a coach helps that to a certain degree. That’s what made this team even more special, not just winning state but the way they did it.”

Souder said he was honored to receive the award because he knows how much it means in the community.

“It’s a pretty cool honor, just because when I think of the Danville Advocate, I think of Larry and his dad,” Souder said. “Going and playing in Harrodsburg, I remember his dad at ball games. He was constantly there. Then when you got something from the Danville Advocate, it was big stuff. It’s a great honor. I’ve won some coach of the year honors and this one is probably more meaningful because of what it stands for. I appreciate it, but it also says a lot about our kids and what they represent and represent our community and our school so well. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Larry said the year after his father passed away, he wanted to do something special to honor him. He said that John Buchanan suggested the award be about more than winning.

“It should be about the character of the coach,” Larry said. “So we just kind of went from there. Over the years I had a group of two or three people that weren’t connected with any one school to pick the winner. We wanted something that kept my dad’s memory alive because he had been doing that for so long, and he put such an emphasis on it. He didn’t want to cover Kentucky; he wanted to cover high school.

“We want to look at the scope of the career, challenges they’ve faced. There were a lot of years Sam Harp, Chuck Smith won championships, but that wasn’t what it was all about. Then when a coach did win, it’d be a little more special because it takes into account more than just winning.”

Souder said his players have helped him tremendously because it wasn’t difficult to get them to buy in to a team-over-individual concept.

“We talk about it a lot too — doing things the right way, being humble,” Souder said. “This group was an easy sell for that and they always have been. You’re going to have people in your ear saying, ‘you should be playing more,’ or ‘you should be scoring more.’ We talk about those things and they’ve just done a great job buying into it. It makes it even better that we won the state championship and show that it pays off — sticking together and playing together.”