Legendary former Clinton High School boys’ basketball coach Don W. Lockard passed away Wednesday morning, May 23rd at the age of 73. In his 29-year coaching career, he amassed 642 wins and led the Dragons on multiple deep runs through the postseason. including a state tournament appearance in 1997.
We will have more on Coach Lockard’s life and career in the coming days. In the meantime, all of us here at WYSH send our thoughts and prayers to the Lockard family, especially his wife Linda, and son Chris (who succeeded his father upon his retirement in 2000) and daughter Yolanda.
On a personal note, I first began broadcasting Clinton High School basketball in the fall of 1999, and could not have been more nervous. Coach’s health was already an issue by that time and, because of my broadcast position at the time, he was not able to come up and join me after games. Happily, that resulted in son Chris, then Don’s top assistant, having to join me for pre- and postgame chats (sometimes during games if he was loud enough), which has led to a friendship I truly value and appreciate.
Sadly, though, it also meant that I did not have as much of a chance as I would have liked to have gotten to know Coach a little better, learn more about his thoughts on basketball (numerous and astute), and enjoy more of his legendary wit and his infectious smile. Still, Coach Lockard and his family have always been gracious, kind and supportive and I always knew that even if nobody else was tuned in to a game, and Coach wasn’t able to make it, he and Linda would be at home cheering on their son and the program that he built in to a traditional powerhouse.
A couple years after his retirement, the gymnasium where he helped mold generations of young men and won over 600 basketball games was named after him, and as small as my part was, I still consider it one of my life’s great privileges that I was able to help unveil his name painted on the wall.
The love and respect shown by players past, and present, to Coach Lockard speaks volumes about the man and the impact that he had on those young men he was charged with molding into productive basketball players, but and more importantly, productive citizens.
I have long said that outside of my wife and my child, I am prouder of no other association in my 46 years of life than I am with the basketball program at Clinton High School. And, when you think of Clinton High School basketball, you think of Coach Don Lockard.
Godspeed, Coach, and Go Dragons!