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Clayton exits coaching job with classPosted Monday, March 22, 2010, at 11:32 AM
This season turned out to be the sixth and final one for Linton-Stockton varsity boys basketball Darren Clayton.
The 1985 Miner graduate did not have his contract renewed earlier this week, after getting a one-year extension following the 2008-09 season.
While speaking to Clayton Thursday morning for the final time in the foreseeable future, I was impressed with Clayton's attitude, but I would have expected nothing less.
"I want people to understand that I don't have any ill will toward anyone."" said Clayton, whose team won 51 games and lost 82 during his stay in charge of hoops at his alma mater. "Coaches come and go and that's at every level -- high school, college and professional.
"...But if they think that somebody else is best for the kids, then I can understand that. I will give all my effort and support to the new coach and the kids. I bleed Red and Blue. My support for the kids will not disappear because of what has happened."
Although Linton-Stockton superintendent Nick Karazsia said the program needed to go in a different direction, he had good things to say about Darren.
"Mr. Clayton is an excellent person and a great role model, " he said. "I coached Darren in eighth-grade basketball. He's a super person."
Clayton's first three teams at Linton-Stockton were a combined 38-31 while his last three won 13 of 64 games.
"We did not have enough Ws the last couple of seasons," said Clayton. "But coaching is a what have you done for me lately profession."
Nobody can't say that Darren did not work his way up the coaching ladder at Linton-Stockton. In a fashion similar to what Ron McBride did at Bloomfield, Clayton started out as a seventh grade coach.
"Bill Carpenter let me help out on the varsity bench in 1993-94," Clayton said of the Miner coach who posted a 12-10 record that season, the last .500-plus team at Linton-Stockton before Clayton's first varsity team in 2004-05 won 12 and lost 11. "I helped him for a couple of years before I left for two years and went to Centerville and Shakamak.
"After I came back, I was girls varsity coach in 1997-98 and then I helped Doug (Boyd) as freshman coach in boys program for two seasons. Then I was freshmen coach for Gene (Hall) for one year and then junior varsity coach for three years under Gene."
After earning a part of the Tri-River Conference title in 2004-05, the first at Linton-Stockton in 11 years, the Miners came within an eyelash of having one of the most successful seasons in recent history.
They won 15 games and lost nine, the most Ws by a Miners boys basketball squad since Les Newman's troops in 1987 posted a 17-7 record. Newman's 1983 team went 19-5 as did Jim Callane's 1976 team.
The 1983 squad and the '06 team both came up short in the post season in heartbreaking fashion as the Miners lost to Bloomfield in triple overtime 27 years ago and Clayton's troops fell to Eastern Greene 50-42 in overtime in the Class 2A Sectional.
"That loss still stings today," said Clayton. "I have watched it one time to stat it, but never again. That is the only game that I can say that about.
"I don't know if people would have thought of me as a coach any differently if we would have won the sectional that year. It's still what have you done lately."
The Miners did capture the Greene County Invitational that season, the first at Linton-Stockton since 1988.
"We did some good things in those first three years," he said. "The Greene County championship stands out as a great moment for us.
"Three times (2005, 2007 & 2008) we were TRC champions and once (2006) we won the SWIAC (Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference). Those were the good times."
Clayton said he took great pride in how his teams were off the court.
"The thing I am most proud of was the kids we produced," he said. "A lot of the kids that played have went on to do good things in their lives. For the most part, our kids have worked their butt's off, but did not quite get the job done on the court.
"The little things that stand out to me are taking kids to a restaurant and having the people there compliment their behavior. Those are the things that go a long way and are very important."
The Miners still managed to go 11-11 in 2006-07 before 5-15, 4-18 and 4-18 seasons led to Clayton's demise.
"When we were totally healthy, we were playing some good basketball," Clayton said of this season when he started four underclassmen including two freshmen. "The most disappointing thing for me is knowing that I am not going to be a part of the program as it is headed into another upswing."
With the state of the economy, Clayton said that teaching pays the bills, but that he enjoys coaching and would like to do it again.
"If the right situation opens up with a teaching and coaching vacancy, I would consider it," he said. "This will be the first summer in 15 years that I will have nothing to do as far as coaching.
"From that perspective, it will be nice. But I will miss it tremendously. I hope to have a chance to coach again."
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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