By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
For 41 years, Roscoe Denney has patrolled the basketball sidelines as either a head coach or an assistant coach at both the high school and collegiate level.
Along the way, he has been a part of the coaching staff of two Kentucky boy’s state champions and a member of several regional championship teams.
Now, Denney has been rewarded for his years of hard work and teaching young athletes by being named the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year for boys’ sports.
That includes all sports, not just basketball. He was named the Kentucky Assistant Basketball Coach of the Year last year, which qualified him to be in the running for the national title, which he was rewarded at a banquet in Des Moines, Iowa, back on June 26.
“I was kind of in shock,” Denney said when they announced his name. “Anytime you can be recognized by your peers it’s special. I’m very appreciative. I never set out with goals of winning anything like this. When you get old you’re probably going to get something, but this keeps everything in perspective.”
Denney was an assistant coach on two state championship teams: The 1986 Pulaski County Maroons and 2005 South Laurel Cardinals. He also made trips to the state tournament with Danville, Breathitt County and North Laurel, helping guide the Jaguars to their first-ever region title in 2012. Two of his trips to the state tournament came as a head coach, while the rest were as an assistant. He was on the coaching staff of the South Laurel teams that made four straight trips to the state tournament and two Pulaski County teams that advanced to state. While he has been coaching for 41 years, the award only recognized his 39 years as a high school coach.
Denney was one of eight nominees in 17 sports, including one football coach who was on the staff of 12 state championship teams in a row. The criteria for choosing the winner included overall record, professional leadership and community service.
“They read the bio of each person and then came back around and announced the winners,” Denney said. “When they announced my name I heard them say something about the Little Dribblers. I have no idea where they got that.” Denney started the Little Dribblers while at South Laurel. They are a group of young children learning the basics of basketball.
“I wasn’t expecting to win,” Denney said. “I was just happy to be there. I got to meet new people, which I enjoyed. The most fun was the lecture each finalist had to give. I choose the match-up defense. I wanted to pass on the information on that defense. I learned it from others, and I’m very proud of that. That was my satisfaction. I also had a lot of fun exchanging ideas. I’m still trying to learn. Basketball still intrigues me. That’s why I’m still coaching.”
Denney believes his mentoring of young coaches also went a long way in his receiving this honor.
“I was really accepting this award for all the high school coaches and players, past and present, that I have helped,” Denney said. “Also, the print media has really promoted my career and that gave me confidence.”