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Much has changed in three years

Man. The sports scene in Chilton County has definitely changed much during my time here at The Clanton Advertiser.

The latest seismic shift is the resignation by Donnie Hand as boys basketball coach at Chilton County.

Hand is one of those coaches that just seem synonymous with the program he’s leading. Hand played at and graduated from CCHS, and his father is legendary coach Don Hand.

Maybe it’s just because Donnie Hand is the only person I’ve ever seen on the bench at a CCHS boys game, but it will surely be strange next year watching someone else coach the team.

The county tournament championships, the playoff appearances, the Bleacher Creatures, the CCHS gym…Hand just seemed like the person that was supposed to be there. But, as they say, the world turns.

I’ve only been here a little more than three years now, but it feels like I’ve seen the Chilton County sports world turn several times.

On my first draft of this column, I actually began this paragraph by listing all the new coaching hires that have taken place while I’ve been at the Advertiser. The list grew too long to continue.

Hand joins a group—which includes Thorsby boys basketball coach Corey Clements and Isabella football coach Lanny Jones—of coaches this season that won’t be back next year. Having put in 12 seasons on the job, Hand was the second-longest tenured coach regardless of sport in the county. Mike Ratliff is in his 20th season of coaching the Isabella softball team.

CCHS will be hard pressed to find someone that can fill Hand’s shoes. He put much time and effort into making sure the gym looked nice—whether it was being used by his team or another—and his priorities were that his Tigers played hard on the court and knew how to behave off it.

I’m sure the next coach will be a hard worker, and I look forward to working with him. But coach Hand—and all the other coaches I’ve worked with that are no longer around—will be missed.