Trying to pick a “Coach of the Year” at Estill High is a bit like trying to pick the winner of Miss Universe from the four finalists.
Not that Mark McKinley, Tim Tipton, Danny Hwang or Mike Jones would win many beauty contests, but dang, can they ever coach.
It’s been pure pleasure for me over the past few months to look on from the sidelines as they and their assistants have taken Engineer athletics to a new level.
Prior to this season, no team in the history of the Estill volleyball program had won more than nine times in a single season.
So what did Mark McKinley do? He simply led his bunch of hard-working girls to a doubling of that number.
The goal of winning tournament championships wasn’t reached, but the bar has been raised to where that will be even more attainable in future campaigns.
“These young ladies have nothing to be ashamed of,” says McKinley.
“We are very proud of them and we’ll miss the seniors terribly, but they have established a legacy for us to follow and we have our work cut out for us. But we look forward to the challenge.”
After finishing on the losing side of an 8-11 record in 2008, Tim Tipton guided his boys to a 12-8 mark on the soccer field, and earned the respect of teams from Lexington to Somerset.
Of the dozen victories, seven were shutouts, including a 2-0 win over Bryan Station in Lexington.
And what about that Danny Hwang?
After watching his girls soccer team go winless in 2008, he guided them to a 6-11 record this season and has set his sights on becoming a force to be dealt with when going up against the Madison County teams.
Finally, there’s Mike Jones and his incredible football squad that just fell to an undefeated Somerset team after advancing past Taylor County in the district playoffs.
As remarkable as the Engineers were last season in losing only one game by a single point prior to the playoffs, the coaching effort may have been even more impressive this year.
Taking a bunch of talented but untested guys up against a tough schedule must have looked daunting to Jones and staff.
And after losing 41-6 to Bourbon County and 63-7 to Rowan at the start of the season, some people of lesser determination may have felt like throwing in the towel.
Instead, the Engineers got back on track and showed they could line up and play against the best.
So who’s your pick for fall sports “coach of the year?”
Far as I’m concerned it’s a four-way tie because these are all good leaders who put their heart and soul in helping young people achieve.
And that’s the beauty of Estill athletics.