Former football assistant inducted into THSCA Hall of Honor
BY GEORGE WATSON
It’s not like Don Black never had the opportunity to be a head coach.
But to be in a profession prone to frequently moving from town to town, and having found a community he could embrace as much as the community embraced him, leaving Wolfforth and Frenship High School required the perfect fit. Ultimately, nothing ever felt as right.
So, for almost three decades, Black was content with being the defensive coordinator under Tigers head coach Bobby Davis as well as serving 20 years as the head track coach and junior high athletics coordinator.
“My philosophy always was I wanted to make every kid feel important,” Black said. “My biggest heroes were the scout team kids that didn’t get to play much on Friday nights. I wanted to make every kid feel important because they are. They’re something special and they needed to know that. That’s the thing I tried to do no matter what.”
It was a successful philosophy for Black’s entire 44-year coaching career, which included stops at Lubbock High, Roosevelt, Post and Corpus Christi Calallen before Frenship.
That success was celebrated Wednesday when Black was inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor in San Antonio.
And as far as anyone associated with the Frenship program can tell, Black will be just the second inductee who served primarily as an assistant. Morris Southall, a longtime coach under legendary Brownwood head coach Gordon Wood, was inducted in 1973.
“This is by far the highest honor you can get in the coaching association, bar none,” Black said. “I’ve seen a lot of great people go in. It’s really special to me, though I never got a head coaching job, that I was able to do enough and for people to recognize that. It’s an honor that I can’t even describe.”
Black’s career started at Lubbock High in 1965 and lasted for three seasons until he went to Roosevelt for two and Post for five. He became the defensive coordinator at Post in 1974 before following Davis to Calallen prior to the start of the 1976 season, also serving as the school’s head track coach.
The duo then took over at Frenship in 1981 when it was still a struggling 3A school. Black served as the defensive coordinator and junior high coordinator his entire time, even being elevated to associate head coach in 2006 when Davis retired and Brad Davis took over as head coach.
Once Bobby Davis and Black took over in Wolfforth, it didn’t take long for the Tigers to find success.
Over the next 29 seasons, Frenship would make 17 playoff appearances, including 13 straight from 1996 to 2008. During that 13-year stretch, the Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the state (1999), made three trips to the state semifinals (2000, 2005-2006) and four trips to the state quarterfinals.
“I don’t think you could ever call anybody indispensable,” Bobby Davis said. “But he took care of a lot of things that made my job a lot easier. He’s just really good with young athletes. He just loves kids and that’s the number one thing you need to have to be able to work with them, especially the younger kids.”
During his time at Frenship, Black did come close a couple of times to landing a head job. He said Frenship’s administration approached him about it when Bobby Davis retired, but he felt his time to be a head coach had passed and declined the opportunity.
One other time, in 1990, Black was one of three finalists for the job at Reagan County in Big Lake. Reagan County instead went with Sam Harrell, the father of former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell. Harrell later won three state championships at Ennis and, in a twist of irony, also was inducted to the Hall of Honor Wednesday.
Black retired following the 2010 season but is still a fixture at Frenship athletic events, and contrary to what he thought might happen in retirement, remains busy. Most importantly, he’s stuck around the community that embraced him back in 1981.
“I was worried after coaching for 44 years, seven days a week a lot of the time, that I would get bored,” Black said. “I love what I’m doing. My wife and I travel some with some great friends. Linda and I got to all the games, football, basketball, track, junior high. I’ve been able to do what I want to do and still see kids developing and doing things. I really enjoy it.”
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