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Ledford names Doby girls basketball coach

Chris Doby has worn a lot of coaching hats during his 11 years at Ledford High School.

On Friday, he added his biggest one of all. Doby is now the new girls basketball coach at Ledford, Principal Jonathan Brown announced Thursday afternoon.

Doby, 48, replaces John Ralls, who stepped down June 5 after more than 700 wins and four state championships on the hardwood. That’s enough to give Doby, possessor of a sharp sense of humor, pause.

“Following a legend like John Ralls,” Doby said. “I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. That’s exactly what you’re doing. When you get in a situation like this and you’re following a living legend that you can’t beat. You can try to emulate. You just hope to put your program in a position to continue to have success.”

It didn’t feel like much of a reach for Brown, himself a former longtime baseball coach at Central Davidson.

“He has coached both boys and girls here,” Brown said. “Just felt like he would provide us with stability and to continue the program at the level John has made it.”

And Doby was ready if surprised.

“I didn’t expect it to happen,” Doby said. “Coach Ralls asked me a few years ago to help him and I did. He kept telling me, ‘I can’t coach forever. I can’t coach forever.’ Somebody’s got to take over after him. Why not me?”

Doby was the junior varsity coach the last two years and joined Ralls on the varsity bench for conference tournament and state playoff games. During his tenure, the JV Panthers put together a pair of 19-3 seasons.

Ralls, who stepped down for health reasons, will remain at the school as a teacher and continue to coach boys and girls golf, Brown confirmed. Ralls has five combined state championships in golf and three in slow pitch softball.

The high profile coaching retirements in consecutive weeks by North Davidson’s Mike Lambros in softball and Ralls last week really got the attention of Doby, who is taking on his first varsity head coaching job.

“It’s an honor,” Doby said. “I think about Coach Lambros, unbelievable. I think of Coach (Allen) Brown at Thomasville, unbelievable. I think of Coach Ralls, unbelievable. I don’t think Coach Ralls get all the attention he deserves.”

There will be some changes for Doby. He’ll continue to be the defensive coordinator for the football team. Doby has been the assistant coach for tennis the last eight years under Randy Grimes but that is probably coming to an end.

“As of right now, it looks like I will not be assisting Coach Grimes anymore,” Doby said. “I really hate that because he and I have a wonderful relationship. You couldn’t ask for a better experience.”

A graduate of East Davidson and UNC Charlotte, Doby worked in sports marketing for Cale Yarborough Motorsports for several years before making a career change into education and coaching.

That road has now led to the program Ralls built into a state power. While the Panthers last won a state championship in 2002, they went 26-4 last season and won three playoff games before falling to Harding in the Western Regional semifinals.

The transition is expected to be smooth.

“John and Chris are colleagues and friends,” Brown said. “John is going to be around next year and Coach Doby can lean on him for advice and those things. I feel like Coach Doby is in a good position.”

He’ll also be coaching the girls who have been on his JV teams the last two years.

“We were fortunate to have some talented girls,” Doby said. “I think we were 19-3 both years. If we can continue that at the varsity level, that would be fantastic.”

Doby will also have his daughter Alyssa, a rising junior, playing for him.

“As of right now if she will hustle, give a hundred percent effort and energy, she’s got a shot at making the team,” Doby said.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or