Mason resigns after 14 seasons with Danville girls basketball

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Danville committed one too many turnovers for Judie Mason’s liking.

Administrators have come and gone with alarming frequency throughout Mason’s 17 years at Danville, and one more change was one more than she was willing to endure.

Mason resigned as the school’s girls basketball coach Friday, announcing on Facebook that she was walking away from the program she turned from a perennial also-ran into a perennial contender.

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She leaves as not only the Lady Admirals’ winningest coach but also as one of the most successful coaches in Kentucky girls basketball history.

And she leaves on her terms, saying she simply has grown weary of change at a school that has had far too much of it.

“I walk away with no hard feelings,” Mason said. “I love Danville. I just don’t want to go through another change,” Mason said.

Mason is referring to changes in the principal’s office. Danville has had eight principals in Mason’s 17 years at the school, and earlier last week the school district posted an opening for that position once again.

“Nothing against any of them; I’m just tired of change,” Mason said.

Mason, who retired from full-time teaching in 2019 but returned to the school in a part-time role and currently works as a behavior interventionist, said she didn’t relish the idea of changing roles or of working only as a coach at a school so far from her Somerset home.

“I love Danville, but I don’t want to drive two hours every day (just to coach),” she said. “It’d take longer to drive there and home than it would to practice.”

She made it clear, however, that this was not a retirement announcement, saying she will coach again if the right opportunity comes along.

“I resigned, not retired. I’m not going to say I’m done,” Mason said.

Mason said she has closed a chapter at a school that she said is very different from the one she came to in 2006.

“Danville is not the Danville I signed onto 17 years ago,” she said. “Danville’s different. I’m not going to say different is bad; it’s just not for me right now. I hung and I hung on and I hung on and this last (change) just got me.”

She said she had intended to stay for only one more year to see the class of six rising seniors on the team through, but she also had a one-year plan when she came to Danville from Boyle County in 2006.

“I was going to do it one year,” she said. “I was going to show everybody I could win there and I was going to leave. I’ve had several opportunities to leave and never even thought about it because it’s me.”

“Those are my kind of kids,” she said. “Those are the kids I wanted to help, and Danville was perfect for me because those kids needed me. I’m so thankful I was there.”

She called Danville a special place, saying it’s different than any other school she has worked at or seen.

“Unless you’ve been at Danville, you just don’t know,” she said. “The people on the outside don’t see (what) we have inside those hallways.”

Mason molded the Lady Admirals into one of the school’s most successful athletic programs during her tenure there, winning an average of 20 games in her 14 seasons and leading the school to its only 12th Region championship in 2014 and five 45th District titles.

Danville teams had some success before Mason’s arrival, but the Lady Admirals had never won consistently prior to her tenure.

“I never thought we could accomplish what we accomplished at Danville,” she said. “When I was coaching against them at Somerset, I never thought Danville could have a girls basketball program the way we did.”

However, she said the wins and championships are not what she is most proud of.

“I’m more thankful for the ladies that came out of there,” she said. “The last couple days I’ve been hearing from them, and they say, ‘Coach Mason, I know I can do anything in life because of you.’ That’s why I coach.”

Mason coached at Danville from 2007-15, then took a break from coaching but continued to teach at the school. She returned to the sideline in 2018 and led the Lady Admirals to four consecutive 45th District titles from 2020-23.

She is 281-125 in 14 seasons at Danville and has a career record of 565-300 in 30 seasons at Somerset, Boyle and Danville. She was 224-121 at Somerset from 1991-2003 and 60-57 at Boyle from 2003-07.

Mason ranks eighth on the career wins list for Kentucky girls basketball coaches and was fourth among female coaches and third among active coaches at the end of this season. Donna Moir of Sacred Heart (804) wins and Chrysti Noble of Rockcastle County (631) are the only active coaches with more wins than her.

Mason is also the winningest girls coach in 12th Region history. Noble and longtime Laurel County coach Roy Bowling have more victories, but many of those came outside the 12th Region.

Mason won 12th Region championships in 1998 at Somerset and in 2014 at Danville. She won an All “A” Classic championship in 2000 at Somerset and won 16 12th Region All “A” Classic titles at Danville and Somerset. She coached the Kentucky All-Stars in the Kentucky-Indiana series 2021.

She said she is proud of the fact that she won at two All “A” schools and at three schools where the program was in need of rebuilding.

“I’ve never walked into a program that was already ready,” she said. “Some people want to chase wins; I want to build a program and that’s what I want to be remembered for.”

She said she wants the best for the Danville players she leaves behind, and she said the meeting in which she told them she was leaving was a difficult one.

“It was very hard. We all cried,” she said. “I’m more to them than a coach. No matter where they go in life, they know I’ve got them.”

Kentucky coaching wins leaders

The career wins leaders among Kentucky girls basketball coaches:


Wins Coach Seasons Schools

886 Randy Napier 38 M.C. Napier, Perry County Central

821 Jeff Haile 37 Henderson County

794 Howard Beth 30 Marshall County

804 x-Donna Moir 33 Sacred Heart

686 Nell Fookes 30 Boone County

658 John High 27 Whitesburg, Breathitt County, Montgomery County

631 x-Chrysti Noble 34 Rockcastle County

568 Roy Bowling 25 Laurel County, Mercy, North Laurel

565 Judie Mason 30 Somerset, Boyle County, Danville

564 Wendell Wilson 564 31 Leslie County



12th Region

565 Judie Mason 30 Somerset, Boyle County, Danville

445 Ken Hurt 25 Garrard County

407 Larry Hurt 24 Boyle County, Pulaski County

403 Roy Bowling 16 Laurel County

364 Chrysti Noble 19 Rockcastle County