McKinney reflects on resignation, coaching career

Published 4:38 am Saturday, June 17, 2023


Contributing Writer

For the first time in a long time, Ed McKinney’s calendar is clear.

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While high school basketball teams are sweating their way through June, McKinney isn’t sweating his decision to walk away from the game and into the next chapter of his life — even if he isn’t sure what’s on the next page.

McKinney’s resignation last month after 16 seasons as boys basketball coach at Danville leaves him with some time on his hands, and he said he’s fine with that.

“It’s kind of nice for the first time in a long time not to have something,” McKinney said. “I’m going to miss that part of it, but on the other side it’s nice to have that.”

McKinney said it wasn’t easy to walk away from the only school where he has been a head coach.

“It was a tough decision,” he said. “All of us who do it give a big part of our lives to it. I don’t think it’s easy for any of us.”

However, he said he thinks it was the right move.

“Some guys get out early, some guys stay in a little too long. I don’t know if any of us get it exactly right; it just felt right,” McKinney said.

McKinney went 278-241 in two stints as coach of the Danville boys, and he leaves ranked No. 2 in career coaching wins. He led the Admirals from 1995-2002 and from 2013-23.

He also coached the Danville girls in the 2005-06 season, going 10-18 for a career record of 288-259.

He said he heard from a number of former players and even former students who didn’t play for him in the days following his May 30 announcement.

“That hits you, and you would never know as a young coach about that until you start coaching and build those relationships,” he said.

McKinney took three Danville teams to the 12th Region finals — the Admirals reached the title game in 2002, 2019 and 2020 — and seven trips to the All “A” Classic.

“I’ve been lucky to have some special young people,” he said.

He said he also has fond memories of coaching his son Spencer, a 2016 graduate, and he will remember his final Danville team, which went 21-11 and which he said was the most cohesive team he had in several years.

“In this day and age … to see kids give some (individual recognition) up for something bigger than themselves, it’s unique,” McKinney said. “Danville kids are pretty special kids. They’re pretty good about working for something bigger than themselves.”

McKinney said he didn’t realize he had found a home when he took the Danville job in 1995.

“I was just happy to have a coaching job,” he said. “You get somewhere and you start loving the people and loving the kids. Danville’s a special place for a lot of reasons.”

McKinney echoed those words in a statement announcing his resignation, saying he was fortunate to coach “the best kids anywhere” and expressing gratitude for those who supported him and the program.

“I’m thankful for all the great assistant coaches I’ve had, supportive administrators, parents, fellow coaches and other Danville stakeholders who all have unconditionally supported our student-athletes,” he said in the statement.

“I also want to say thanks to all the support folks, officials, media members, et cetera, who make high school sports what they are. For all of us lucky enough to get to coach at the high school level, we know how special the experience is and the ways in which it affects our lives for the good. For that, I will always be grateful.”

McKinney retired two years ago after a long career as a teacher and administrator, and his departure from coaching ends a 32-year association with Danville schools.

“I’ve gotten a lot of good out of coaching and working with the Danville schools,” he said. “If I’ve given a fraction back of what I’ve gotten out of being a Danville schools coach and employee, that would be something I’d be proud of.”

As for what’s next, he’s got some time to work on that.

“I’ll probably take some time to try to figure it out,” McKinney said.