Multiple Teams · Dragons, Hoosiers All Around the State Mourn Loss of Coach K

CLARK COUNTY — The local sports community is reeling after the Thursday passing of beloved and iconic coach Darrell Kingery.

According to Lt. Col. Scottie Maples of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, the retired educator was found at 11:05 a.m. Wednesday in a field along Fry Road in Otisco by a passerby. EMS arrived and discovered Kingery, 65, who had been riding a bicycle, with shallow breathing and a weak pulse. He was transported to Kentuckiana Medical Center and later to the University of Louisville Trauma Center. There he was stabilized, but died Thursday afternoon.

According to Maples, the Clark County Sheriff’s Department investigated the scene and did not find any evidence that Kingery or his bicycle was struck by a vehicle. It appears he either fell from his bike or a medical incident cause him to fall, Maples said.

Kingery was well-known throughout the community primarily as a track and field and cross country coach for more than 30 years in the Clarksville Community Schools Corp. and West Clark Community Schools Corp. In his time as coach, Kingery led Silver Creek’s boys’ cross country teams to four sectional titles and the boys’ track and field team to a pair of sectional championships. Kingery’s Dragons broke Jeffersonville High School’s 43-year track sectional championship streak in 2014. At Clarksville, he coached Tracy Alexander to the 300-hurdles state championship in 1988 and Amanda Bell to the cross country state championship in 1998 and the 1999 1,600-meter track title. Kingery was a News and Tribune Coach of the Year finalist after leading the Dragons to their first track sectional title in 2014.

Dan Graf knew Kingery both as a neighbor and as his son’s track coach. Graf described him as “a brilliant coach.”

“A lot of people called him the wizard because he could stand on the sideline and tell you the outcome of the track meet,” Graf said. “He knew the races they needed to win and the types of things that needed to happen for his team to be a success.”

He recalled Kingery’s kindness in 2008. At the time, Graf nearly lost his father, and his home was damaged by the tornado.

“Darrell and his wife Sheila worked tirelessly to help us around the house,” Graf said. “Never said anything, never asked. The just came and rolled their sleeves up, brought a trailer and started helping. They did that many nights for several weeks. I’ll never forget that.”

Graf’s son, Jacob, a senior in high school, joined Kingery’s track and field team his freshman year. Jacob said Kingery is “very kind. He’s very thoughtful. He’s always bringing in fruit and stuff from his farm. He always puts everybody else first before himself. He makes you want to be a better person.”

David Chanley knew Kingery well from many years of coaching. The two became good friends who “talked all the time, on numerous occasions, about anything and everything.”

Chanley said as a coach, and as a person, Kingery was top notch.

“I’ve said this many times to people. He is the best coach of any sport I’ve ever met,” Chanley said. “… He’s the best coach. He’s just the best. He has an unbelievable way of connecting with people and kids. He was an exemplary role model as to this is how you are supposed to motivate, connect with kids, direct kids, and he knew what he was doing. He knew the sport.”

One story Chanley shared exemplifies just that.

“I was in a room after school and my door was open and Darrell was talking to one of his runners. He was basically chewing him out. I’m gonna say it wasn’t your normal chewing out. It was just the most positive … Well, I just I could have bottled that up and said ‘That’s the way you’re supposed to talk to kids.’”

Rick Beyers knew Kingery for many decades; the two spent time together at Wabash College and when Beyers signed on as Clarksville’s basketball coach in the 1980s, Kingery joined as his assistant coach.

“He was the finest that anybody could ever want,” Beyers said. “… He was an intermediate hurdler and distance runner. His skill set was second to none. He’s the best I’ve ever seen at individually relating to athletes.”

Kingery’s connection to the kids was evident to Elizabeth Gonzalez, who wrote in a Facebook message: “Coach was there for the kids in and outside of track and cross country and worked hard to make him happy because they cared deeply about him. He was an outstanding coach and mentor, pushing these kids to be their best. The kids cared deeply for him.”

Greg Mengelt, News and Tribune sports editor, said Kingery was “quiet. Kind. He always finds a way to compliment his team even when they don’t perform well.”

“He was one of my favorites,” Mengelt added.

“He was just a great great human being,” Beyers said. “To say that he will be missed is so much of an understatement you can’t even comprehend.”

There will be a Celebration of Life for Coach Kingery held on the track(or main gym if inclement weather) at Silver Creek High School from 2-5pm on November 11th.

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