Ledford taps Doby as girls basketball coach
The great-nephew of an area coaching legend is replacing another coaching standout.
Ledford High School athletics director Donald Palmer announced that junior varsity girls basketball coach Chris Doby, whose great uncle is Davidson County and Trinity coaching standout John Doby, is the new girls varsity coach, replacing John Ralls, who is stepping down with 701 victories and four NCHSAA state basketball championships.
“I’ve got huge shoes to fill,” Chris Doby said. “It would be like following either Dean Smith or John Wooden.”
Palmer said that no outside applicants were considered and that Doby is already working in his new role. Doby has been the junior varsity girls coach for the past two seasons. He has also been an assistant boys basketball coach.
Since joining the Ledford faculty in 2002-2003 as a marketing teacher, Doby has served as an assistant football coach all of the time and an assistant tennis coach for eight years.
“He’s in the system so he provides stability,” Palmer said. “The kids know him. He’s a good fit for what we have here.”
Ralls will continue as girls golf coach but has said that he is stepping down as girls basketball coach because of upcoming surgeries. He indicated he will likely teach one more year and then retire.
“He asked me a couple of years ago if I would become the girls junior varsity coach,” Doby said. “His announcement was a shock. We knew that he would eventually step down. But, I wasn’t expecting it this soon.”
Doby said he will continue to use Ralls’ offensive and defensive philosophies.
“We did pretty much that same thing with the JV as they did with the varsity, just a downsized version,” Doby said. “We’ll still be aggressive on defense. We’ll play man-to-man and mix it up with some zone press traps.”
Ralls goes out after one of his best seasons in recent years, guiding the Panthers to a 10-0 run through the Mid-Piedmont Conference and to a 26-4 campaign that ended with a loss to Harding University in the 3A West regional semifinals.
A number of key players were seniors, leaving Doby with something of a rebuilding task. Among those departing are center Leigh Anne Midkiff, 3-point sharpshooter Emmalee Thomas and defensive specialist Sydney Stroud.
Those returning are led by Courtney Callicutt, who was the team’s second-leading scorer behind Thomas.
“We lost a lot of size,” Doby said. “We’re going to be guard-sized. We’ll have to be patient on offense and put ourselves in the right situations to be successful.”
Doby, who played football at East Davidson under Howard Hayes, comes from a coaching and athletics lineage that also includes an uncle that was a football coach and county school superintendent, and a father who played football at Guilford College.
After graduating from UNC Charlotte in 1988, Doby worked in motorsports marketing until leaving that profession in 2001 because of job uncertainty.
“My dad told me that I should go do what I really wanted to do and that was coach and teach,” Doby said. “I knew Max Cole, the principal at Ledford, and he gave me my start.”
Now, he is the sidelines as a head coach, replacing someone who has a total of 12 state titles spread across girls basketball, boys and girls golf and softball.
“It’s a big challenge,” Doby said. “I’m not going to try to replace coach Ralls. I’m just going to try to emulate his principles and hope I can create success for the Panthers now and for years to come.”