By. Joe Lafranca (Press Republican)
PLATTSBURGH — After spending the last 14 years as the Clinton Community College men’s basketball coach, Kevin Daugherty has elected to call it a career.
The longtime coach decided about halfway through the 2018-19 season that it would be his last.
While Daugherty will not be coaching the Cougars next season, he will remain as Clinton’s athletic director, which is a position he has held since November 2017.
“It’s great that I am in this position because you have a hand in all the sports,” Daugherty said. “You have a hand in everything. You can be in touch with the coaches and provide for the coaches and the teams.
“Honestly, this will also make the transition from retiring from coaching easier.”
TIME FOR REFLECTION
Daugherty coached his final game on Feb. 23, which Clinton lost to SUNY Adirondack, 87-63.
Daugherty said the ride home from Queensbury allowed for some time to reflect, knowing he had coached for the final time.
“It was bittersweet,” Daugherty said.
“We did not play well, which can happen. You want to go out and win your last game and all that, but our guys played as hard as they could, and that’s all I can ask for as a coach.”
Daugherty did not tell his players about his plan to retire until the night before the game.
“I was hesitant about it because I don’t believe in trying to fire up your team that way,” he said.
“I also thought it would only be fair to let them know, though. There are a lot of emotions that go with a decision like this. I really made the decision when about half the season was done.”
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Before joining Clinton, Daugherty spent 17 seasons, starting in 1988, as the Plattsburgh High boys varsity basketball coach.
As a Plattsburgh alumnus, the opportunity to coach at his old high school meant a lot.
“When I went to interview for the job there, I thought it was going to be for the JV job,” Daugherty said.
“I then found out that it was for the varsity job, and that job was so cool to me because I had played there. At the time, I had not been a head coach yet and told them I did not know if I was ready, but I took the job. I could not pass it up.”
Daugherty led the Hornets to nine Section VII championships and currently stands as the all-time wins leader at Plattsburgh.
He was inducted into the Plattsburgh High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
MOVING TO CLINTON
As time passed, Daugherty wanted to coach at the college level and knew Clinton presented the best opportunity for his family.
“I wanted a shot at college,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t go some place as an assistant because I had a mortgage, a nice home and a job here. This was the only place I could do it, and that’s what made me want to come here to Clinton.
“I wanted the next challenge.”
Daugherty applied for the position at Clinton in the spring of 2005 and began coaching that fall.
Donna Dixon, now the Clinton women’s basketball coach, was a member of the hiring committee that brought Daugherty to Clinton.
“He has impacted so many kids and had so many success stories on the court and in the classroom, and when he interviewed for the job, you could tell that was the type of person he was,” Dixon said.
“He wants to see these kids develop, move on and become something. Basketball is in his blood, and he loved teaching the game. He was a disciplinarian, but he was also sensitive. He had all those traits a great coach needs.”
STARTING OFF STRONG
In his first season, Daugherty coached the Cougars to a Northern Independent Conference postseason championship.
Daugherty followed that campaign with a 20-win season, which included Clinton’s first trip to the NJCAA Region III final four in program history.
Phillip Barnes, a recruit from the Cayman Islands, helped lead the Cougars that season.
Barnes finished with more than 1,000 points in his two years at Clinton and piled up plenty of accolades, including NJCAA Region III Player of the Year.
“I think the recruiting process is one of the most interesting parts of the junior college level,” Daugherty said.
“Barnes was a perfect example.
“Watching a kid come in here from the Cayman Islands and getting to see him grow and develop is the type of thing I cherish as a coach.
“The kid ended up being an All-American, and he got a full scholarship to Le Moyne College. As a coach, I always loved seeing my players excel. That was one of my favorite parts of the job.”
A SPECIAL SEASON
The Cougars’ top season under Daugherty’s leadership came in the 2013-14 campaign when Clinton finished 24-8, which is the best record in program history.
The Cougars reached the Region III championship that season, but they lost to Herkimer Community College, 81-75.
Even though Clinton came up short of a championship, Daugherty said that year’s team, led by senior starters Bayron Carter, Kyree Hull, Mykelle Krecko, Jamie Davison and Tom Ryan, made a lasting mark.
“That was the best team in the history of the school,” Daugherty said. “That team had talent, and that team had dedication. It was special.”
During the historic season, Daugherty notched his 400th career win and also became the winningest coach in Clinton history.
TAKING IT ALL IN
Having spent more than a decade with the Cougars, Daugherty noted how he had plenty of positive and negative experiences.
As Clinton searches for a new coach, Daugherty said the program needs someone who can handle all aspects of coaching.
“We are just trying to get someone in here with a lot of energy and passion,” he said.
“I think as a young coach, you are more concerned about wins or losses, but as time passes, you start to concern yourself with more than just the winning and losing.
“From my perspective, watching your team improve from start to finish, regardless of what your record is, was always the thrill for me. It just reinforced that you were doing the right things, and you were teaching the right stuff. You watch your kids improve individually and as a team, and that’s worth a lot of championships.”
Daugherty said Clinton is actively seeking a coach for the men’s basketball program.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Daugherty admitted next basketball season will be strange when he is not on the sidelines coaching, but at the same time, he is excited to focus on his responsibilities as an athletic director.
“He is putting his heart and soul into being the athletic director,” Dixon said. “Knowing he is still going to have a hand in the athletic program is great. He is willing to do whatever it takes to make athletics at Clinton a success.”
Dixon had previously coached the women’s team from 1995 to 2013, and she has been an admissions advisor at the college since 2000.
Daugherty played a key role in Dixon’s return to coaching women’s basketball.
“He met with me several times,” Dixon said. “He wanted to have me back and have the women’s program grow. I felt really good about coming back, and having him there is going to be good because I know I share the same passion he does.”
Since assuming the role of athletic director, Daugherty has looked to make strides to improve all of Clinton’s athletic programs.
Most recently, Daugherty helped install men’s and women’s cross country programs, which will be available to student-athletes this fall.
“We have a great staff here and great teachers here,” Daugherty said.
“People here will do anything for kids to keep them on the right path and keep them going. The toughest thing is sometimes just getting kids here, but I think once they get there, they appreciate it.”
Owning more than 30 years of coaching experience, Daugherty said he cherishes every moment of his coaching career.
He pointed out how everyone has a different coaching style, but no matter the philosophies a coach believes in, one thing should remain a constant.
“The advice I would give any coach is to come in with an open mind,” Daugherty said. “Be ready to work, and be ready for some disappointment along the way. You have to be able to handle it and stay positive.
“Most importantly, never forget that it’s about your players. It’s about your players, and it’s not just about winning or losing. That’s part of it, but you have to look at the big picture and the effect you have on kids.”
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