The life of a Div. I basketball coach is one of dedication and sacrifice. For many, the road can be a cold and lonely place as they trek across the country in search of the talent necessary to form the back bone of the team's success.
The pinnacle of the college coaching profession is a position as the head coach of a NCAA Division I program. However, there is very little room on the summit as each year a mass of coaches is purged from among the horde to make way for the next group intent upon leaving their mark.
But what happens to the all of these discarded coaches, who at one time were marked as the saviors of their programs. For some, a trip back to Division II or a position as an assistant with an established program seems like the obvious choice to breathe life back into a wavering career.
This is exactly the situation that Denny Downing, former Women's Basketball Coach at The University of Texas-Pan American, was a faced with in April after the university decided to move the in a different direction after four of the most successful seasons in program history. Where would his career take him?
The answer would come via the road less traveled, as news broke on Tuesday that Orangefield High, a small 3A school just east of Beaumont, TX, had approved Downing to take the helm of their Girls Basketball program in 2013-2014.
For Downing the move was a calculated decision as he hoped to take over a program with a solid foundation that he could build into a dynasty. A point he made clear to Gabriel Pruett of TheOrangefield Leader saying, “I wanted to go somewhere where the team had support, in the past we had to create interest. That was not the case in Orangefield. I feel very fortunate they chose me. I wanted to go somewhere where the school wanted me and I was not some novelty."
Though the high school coaching ranks lack the glamour and prestige of even the smallest collegiate programs, that doesn't mean it doesn't provide the type of security that even the most elite coach would envy. For a collegiate coach, quality recruitment is the name of the game. A poor recruitment could mark the end of their tenure with the program. However, high school coaches are afforded the opportunity to develop talent rather than simply evaluate.
Downing has been successful in every coaching stop on his resume, and if his renewed vigor can spread to his team, he should continue that success in Texas 21-3A.