Doing it right: Danny Petty builds coaching legacy
WRITTEN BY BOB LABBE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA BERRY
James Clemens boys’ basketball head coach Danny Petty will enter his 46th year of coaching in the 2018-2019 school year. Even with all of his well-deserved accolades as one of Alabama’s all-time greats of coaching, he said he hopes to leave a legacy of being more than a winner.
“I want to be remembered for doing it the right way,” said Petty. “I want to be known as setting a good example for kids. Coaching is all about the players and the relationships you have with the players, parents, coaches and school administration.”
Born in Toledo, Ohio, and raised in Alabama’s Madison County, Petty, 67, is an inductee to the Alabama State High School Hall of Fame, as he has posted a record of 758-385 as a varsity coach and remains the only coach in state history to win state championships at three different schools. He won state titles at Johnson (1987), Madison Academy (2002) and Bob Jones (2010). He coached both boys and girls varsity teams at Johnson, Hazel Green, Lincoln County, Tenn., Madison Academy and Bob Jones before making the move to James Clemens in 2014.
Even more than winning, Petty said he loves the ability to change the course of life for so many student-athletes.
“You don’t get into coaching to get rich. It’s the love of being with young people and making a difference in their lives,” said Petty. “I still communicate with my former players going back to when I began coaching in 1972.”
As a player growing up in Huntsville and attending Lee High School, Petty was cut from the school team as a sophomore. He was later seen playing recreational league basketball, where he showed incredible roundball talents. He was persuaded to try for the school team again as a junior and soon made the squad for the Generals.
As a senior, he led Lee High to a state championship, where he was named Most Valuable Player. He earned a scholarship to continue to play basketball in college.
During his many years as a coach, Petty has also remained active as a player in different adult leagues and has played in the Senior Olympics five times, winning both silver and gold medals. He said he also enjoys playing tennis and golf. His fondest times, however, are reminiscing about his long tenure as an educator and coach. He said his work is his passion.
Petty has said this next season of coaching will be his final one hovering on the sidelines of the James Clemens program, as he’s set to retire after one last hurrah. When he does call it quits, he said he wants to learn how to play guitar from his son Scott; play more tennis and golf; travel; and enjoy his daughter, Olivia, who is a nurse.
“God has blessed me,” added Petty. “Coaching was the right thing to do, and I feel I’ve done it the right way.”