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More to coaching than winning games

Billy Vaughn will be missed.

One of the most conscientious and considerate girls basketball coaches who I have worked with in my 42 years of sports writing has decided to step down.

Vaughn put things in perspective, prayed about it and decided it was time to hang up his whistle at Loyd Star. You could say he saw the handwriting on the wall.

“In past years, I have asked coaches who retired, ‘How do you know when it’s time to get out of coaching?'”

Vaughn paused for a moment.

“They said, ‘You will know.'”

A 1978 Loyd Star graduate, Vaughn coached for 29 years at two schools in Lincoln County. He spent his first 20 years coaching at Enterprise before returning to his high school alma mater. He has coached a variety of sports: football, baseball, softball and tennis.

Of course, basketball was his first love. His priority was wife Nancy and their two daughters, Brandi and Emily. Besides family, he was eager to serve God and the community in every way possible. His father, Peck Vaughn, has been the cornerstone of the men’s brotherhood organization at Macedonia Baptist Church since Day 1.

Asked about coaching basketball, Vaughn said, “Kids are kids and the game has changed a lot. It has become a whole lot quicker and physical.”

Nowadays, there is no down time for the dedicated athlete. Basketball, like any sport, becomes a year-round challenge. There are offseason conditioning and weightlifting programs, plus an assortment of summer camps, giving a coach more time to spend with his players. That means more time away from home, too.

At 53 years of age, Vaughn still has a lot of good years remaining. His father recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

Vaughn said a generation gap can be extremely challenging.

“I got to the point where I wasn’t able to motivate the kids like I wanted to,” Vaughn admitted. “I knew it was time to step down.”

Loyd Star has a strong athletic tradition and winning is expected, no matter what the circumstances. Vaughn didn’t have a senior or a junior on his team last season and, to no one’s surprise, his young squad struggled against a difficult schedule.

On the bright side, Vaughn will remain on staff as Loyd Star’s athletic director and assistant principal for grades 7-12. He’s qualified to teach health, social studies and physical education.

Loyd Star principal Robin Case expressed her appreciation for Vaughn’s efforts in athletics and academics. “It has been my privilege to work with Coach Vaughn for the last nine years. He is a man of character and always commits his personal best to every task he undertakes.

“It will definitely be a change this year with his retirement from basketball,” Case continued. “Basketball is his passion and I know this was a very difficult decision for him. I appreciate all his hard work and look forward to working with him as he continues as athletic director and assistant principal.”

Vaughn will assist Case with the hiring of a new basketball coach. He will take the Loyd Star varsity to team camp at Co-Lin, starting Sunday.

What did Vaughn like best about coaching?

“I really enjoyed watching the kids work hard to improve and understand the game,” he replied. “Hard work and dedication does pay off. Hopefully, something I’ve done over the years has made my players better people.”

He inherited the Loyd Star job from Lori Britt who resigned after one season. She had followed former coach Jan Delaughter who won a state championship in 1991 and made a return trip to the state finals in 1992.

Vaughn’s oldest daughter, Brandi Sellers, just graduated from Southern Miss and will begin teaching English and Special Education at West Marion. Younger daughter Emily is a math major at USM and might coach basketball in the future.

Back in the late 1970s, Vaughn played for Coach Wendell Redd at Loyd Star. The Hornets thrived in a basketball hotbed and the demands were extremely high.

Personally speaking, this column believes Loyd Star has some of the most vocal and demanding fans around. Too often they forget…it’s just a game.

Vaughn attended Co-Lin and transferred to Mississippi State University where he obtained a degree in health and physical education. He continues to be a devoted Bulldog fan.

Like this column said earlier, we have enjoyed working with Vaughn. Win or lose, Vaughn often stayed up late after midnight gathering statistics off a game film, so his team could get some publicity in the Daily Leader. He believed his players should be recognized not only for their points but also for rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots, too.

For the unknowing reader, there were few blocked shots this season. Vaughn’s players were young and undersized but they tried their best to over achieve. Vaughn tried his best, too.

 Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email: tom.goetz@dailyleader.com