The award is sponsored by The Kentucky Advocate and Coffman’s Trophy Shop in Junction City in memory of Vaught, the long-time Advocate sports editor who died 14 years ago. The selection committee considers not only the past year’s accomplishments, but also what the coach has meant to a program, the challenges a coach has encountered and the character of the coach.
Ralston helped persuade French to leave Meade for Lincoln, and French led the Patriots to a 29-17 mark in four seasons. Ralston has known Story for years and had Story on his staff when he was Lincoln’s baseball coach.
“They are both outstanding coaches and outstanding people,” said Ralston, who attends church with both at Pleasant View Baptist Church in Lincoln County. “I think Don will miss certain parts of coaching. I don’t think anybody who coaches with the passion he did can keep from missing certain parts of it. I know Don hated not winning the (12th) region this year, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“I thought when Larry won the state title this year he might quit, but now I really do not know. Now that he has got over that hump, he might coach forever.”
French’s wife, Connie, is not quite ready to say her husband will “coach forever.” However, she knows he enjoyed last season.
“Winning a state championship was a terrific feeling for Larry to see all the hard work and determination of the players and coaches working together to achieve that goal,” she said. “The season was very special because of the hard work, dedication and fun the players and coaches had together. They just never gave up.
“The community support of parents, businesses and everyone for the team was just amazing. The time, effort, cheering and monetary support of everyone was wonderful.”
She’s not sure he enjoyed the season any more than some others, even though it ended with a state title victory.
“Larry always enjoys every football season. He wants the players and coaches to enjoy it and have fun, too,” Connie French said. “For instance, he had someone sneak up at practice one day and he told the players that it was a scout from another team. But honestly, the season was particularly enjoyable because there were no close games and they won the state championship.”
It had to help, too, that his son, Steven, was part of the Boyle staff.
“Steven and Larry have always shared the dream of being part of a state championship football team. When Steven played his senior year of football, they both felt that our Meade County football team had the opportunity to fulfill that dream. That did not happen,” Connie French said.
“But that dream did come true with Steven being able to be part of the coaching staff with Larry at Boyle County. So it meant even more to Larry not only to coach a state championship team but also to have his son, Steven, assisting the team, too."
So how much longer does she think he might coach?
“Larry will always be a part of football coaching. He loves coaching football and working with young people. He says that he will coach a few more years,” she said. “But I know that if he is not on the field, he would still be in the background coaching somewhere. That is a part of him that he will never be able to give up.”
Ralston wonders if Story might not have the same withdrawal pains.
“When he coached middle school, he did a great job and just kept moving up and doing a good job,” Ralston said. “He understands kids so well. He understands the game and loves it.
“He was a basketball player himself and has always been at Lincoln County. The school means a lot to him, and he takes a lot of pride in the school. I think his replacement, Cassandra (McWhorter), will do a great job, but everyone will miss Don.”