Story by Randy Whetstone Jr.
Photo by Damon Atherton
The Doss Dragons have been one of the top teams in the sixth region the past few seasons. Under former head coach Tony Williams, Doss went 79-24, including back-to-back sixth region championships, two state tournament appearances and one state championship runner-up. Now that Williams has departed, new head coach Blake Stone will be looking to maintain the trend of success at Doss. He shared with me his excitement and experiences thus far as a first year head coach.
Tell me about your coaching experience and background.
“This is my 11th year coaching. I was at Henderson County for 10 years. I started as the freshman coach and finished the last five years as the associate head coach. I worked under Mark Starns for five years and Coach Tyler Smithhart for another five years.”
What were your first thoughts upon becoming head coach?
“My first thoughts were about how excited I was. It is a great opportunity to share my beliefs with players and experience the culture of basketball here at Doss. This is a great job and for it to be my first head coaching job, it was a dream come true. Coming from a smaller town, I love being around the type of kids we have here at Doss. I learn from them just as much as they learn from me.”
What have you discovered to be most exciting up to this point as head coach?
“The most exciting part of being a head coach is matching up with some of the other coaches. I have been amazed with how hard the teams play on every possession. We are six games in and we have already faced two coaches with state championships and two more with regional championships. It drives me to never take a day off because I know those coaches did not have that much success by accident.”
What do you think will be the greatest challenge in this first season as head coach?
“The greatest challenge for me is delegating things to other coaches. I am a person who tends to do things myself, but I am learning there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done to my level of satisfaction. Also, bringing energy each and every day is a change. As an assistant, you can take days off or not work as hard and get away with it because not all eyes are on you.”
What is your coaching philosophy?
“My coaching philosophy is never let a team play harder than we do. I love defense, always stressing to my guys you cannot lose if you do not let the other team score. Of course, in this region with the caliber of players around, defense on every possession is important. I am big on team defense and team balance on offense. Opposing teams will exploit weaknesses so we must make sure all players are mentally and physically ready to get the job done.”
Doss has had great success the past few years. What will you do to keep up that streak?
“To continue success here at Doss, we have to outwork all teams around and play harder. We will have some growing pains since I’m a new coach and we’re going up against some of the best coaches in the state. Holding kids accountable and rewarding who is playing the hardest is my biggest strength. So if every player will lay it all on the line at every practice and game, we should have a successful season.”
How will you continue to cultivate this program in the future?
“By finding that balance of hard work while still having fun with it. I want players that want to work so hard that every day is fun because they are succeeding. Building a culture of success while working hard will make younger kids want to be a part of Doss. With our school growing so fast in academics, I think Doss is a school on the rise both in the classroom and in athletics.” VT