Story surprised by firing as DCA boys basketball coach

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Don Story is not going to let one bad day overshadow six good years.

Story was surprised by his dismissal as Danville Christian’s boys basketball coach following the most successful season in school history, but he isn’t sulking about it.

He said he will look back fondly on his time at DCA in part because of the growth of the program and the players who have been part of it, and in part because he said he grew stronger in his faith during his time at the Christian school.

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“Really, it’s been six of the best years of my life as far as growing closer to God,” Story said. “I end up with a good feeling about how he used me in the time he put me at DCA.”

That time came to an end April 25 when Story was fired by the school after three meetings with administrators.

“They called me in and basically just said they’d had some parent complaints,” Story said. “It kind of threw me off guard a little bit cause I hadn’t heard anything, or nobody had said anything to me about that, so I was kind of surprised.”

In a statement, DCA athletic director David Lamb thanked Story for his service to the school but did not address the reasons behind the school’s decision.

“Coach Story has been a respected member of the DCA community and is a man whose character we deeply admire and appreciate,” Lamb said in the statement. “We are immensely grateful for all that he has done for our school and basketball program. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors and trust that his impact will resonate with our community for years to come.”

Story said he first met with Lamb and headmaster Chris Holderman about two and a half weeks ago to discuss the concerns some parents had with him.

“After that initial meeting, we decided to pray about it over the weekend, and that Monday (April 22) I met with the AD and felt like everything was going better,” Story said. “Then about three days later they called me back in and said they just didn’t feel like anything was going to improve or they were going to be able to get past this.

“I did not feel at the time God was leading me away from DCA, so I told them, ‘I’m not going to resign’ because I didn’t feel like I was supposed to, so that put them in a spot where they were going to have to release me.”

Story said he bears no ill will toward them, saying they were in a difficult position.

“I think the world of Dr. Lamb and Mr. Holderman. To me they’re great men of God that love the Lord, and I love the Lord. They had to make a decision based on what they thought was best for DCA,” he said.

He said he respects their decision, though he is disappointed.

“It’s been kind of hard initially to realize that I’m not going to be coaching the guys any more,” Story said. “I know they’ll get another coach and they’ll get a good coach, probably. I think they’ll be diligent about it.”

DCA made its coaching search public last week. In posts on the school’s website and social media accounts, the school said it is looking for “an experienced and dedicated (coach) who is a devout Christian with a passion for mentoring young Christian leaders.”

In his statement, Lamb said: “As we move forward, we remain committed to providing our student-athletes with the guidance and support they need to thrive both on and off the court,” he said. “We appreciate the understanding and support of our community during this difficult transition.”

Story joined DCA in 2018, one year after the school joined the KHSAA and one year before it became a full-fledged member of the association. He went 6-19 in his first season with the Warriors but had an 86-83 record over six seasons.

The Warriors went 25-7 this season. They played in the statewide All “A” Classic for the second time, were the top-ranked team in the 12th Region for most of the season and were ranked in the top 20 in the KHSAA’s RPI standings by the end of the regular season.

“As far as success on the floor, that’s probably what I’m most proud of over the last six years,” Story said.

DCA had never won a KHSAA postseason game before this season, but the Warriors were runners-up in the 45th District and reached the semifinals of the regional tournament, where they lost to Somerset in triple overtime.

It was a far cry from Story’s beginnings with the team. He noted that his first game in November 2018 with a team made up primarily of middle-schoolers resulted in a 42-point loss to Burgin.

In his second season, a team that started two sophomores, one freshman and two eighth-graders went 16-14, and he recalled taking some of the players to Pulaski County to watch the 2020 regional tournament.

“I thought, ‘Can we ever compete against the Pulaski Countys of the world?’” he said. “They just looked like men compared to our guys, and we came to that point.”

Story said the relationships he built with the players were more rewarding than any of their achievements on the court.

“I was called there to coach and, I think, mentor these young men,” he said. “I would say the thing I’ll most remember is the young men you get to spend time with and grow with.

“I grew, probably, more than they did. God took me on a journey that was tough but very rewarding.”

Story said he was able to meet with the players following his firing – “I got to say goodbye to the guys, and that was a blessing to invest in them one last time” – and the team will meet for a dinner Tuesday in lieu of a postseason banquet.

Story came to DCA after retiring from the Lincoln County schools – he went 110-40 as coach of the Lincoln girls from 2005-10 – and he said his goal was to spend about seven years at DCA before moving on.

“It was going to happen pretty soon. I would like for it to have been on my terms, obviously, but ultimately God’s in control, and sometimes our plans are not his plans,” he said.

He said he doesn’t know if or when he’ll coach again, though he did say he probably wouldn’t be a head coach again.

“If I did get back into it, it would probably be as an assistant somewhere,” Story said.

Story said he was grateful for the continued support of Jim Ward, a former colleague at Lincoln who brought him to DCA when Ward was the headmaster there.

“I just want everybody to know that I appreciate the time that I spent at DCA,” Story said. “It was a wonderful time for me and my family and God blessed me in a lot of ways.”