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Milestone for Coach D
FHS boys’ coach Dodgen notches 500th career victory

Players and assistant coaches gather around head coach Donald Dodgen following — as the sign says — Dodgen’s 500th career coaching victory, a 52-32 triumph over Heritage Friday night at HHS. Everyone added their signature to the sign.- Photos by Marty McCool/
Donald Dodgen has reached the coveted 500-win coaching plateau.

In the middle of an outstanding start to his 26th year as a high school or small college head coach — leading his Farragut High School Admiral boys to an unblemished 6-0 record to date — coach Dodgen earned his 500th career coaching win Friday at Heritage High School, a 52-32 victory.

“That’s quite an accomplishment, I know he’s very proud of that,” said FHS athletic director Mike Carroll. “We’re very proud of him. Congratulations to him.”

In his eighth season at FHS, Dodgen, 53, has compiled his 500 wins at four schools starting with his first high school head job, the McMinn County boys, to begin the 1976-77 season.

“I’ve had some great kids and great coaches,” Dodgen said just moments after wrapping up No. 500. “Thirty years ago today if I’d thought about being in this situation today, well, I’d never thought about it.”

A three-time All-state and High School All-American player at Gatlinburg-Pittman in the late 1960s who average an eye-popping 36 points per game his senior season, Dodgen became a standout All-Region post at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens in the early 1970s.

“I was coaching while I was still doing my student-teaching,” Dodgen said about his first job as head coach at Riceville Jr. High in McMinn County in the early 1970s.

After seven seasons as skipper at McMinn County High – which included a state tournament appearance — Dodgen landed as Dwain Farmer’s assistant at his alma-mater, TWC. After two seasons as an assistant, Dodgen piloted the TWC men for seven seasons — 1985-86 through 1991-92.

Dodgen then went back to his Sevier roots as head coach of his high school alma-mater, Gatlinburg-Pittman, for four seasons — 1992-93 through 1995-96.

As for how he landed at FHS, “it’s a funny story,” Dodgen said. “When Lynn Sexton stepped down as head coach (1991) I applied. It came down to me and Mike Edwards, and Mike got the job.”

But five years later, “I found out it came open again, and I applied again,” Dodgen said. “I interviewed with Mr. (Edwin) Hedgepeth and Mike Carroll. I was lucky enough to get the job the second time around.”

At FHS, Dodgen has won one regular season District 4-AAA championship (1997) and one district tournament title (2001) while making the Region 2-AAA tourney each of his eight seasons. His Admiral record to date is 152-75.

FHS senior post Tim Torrence, a three-year starter under Dodgen, spoke glowingly of his head coach.

“Ever since I moved here, Coach Dodgen, he was one of the first grown-ups I met,” Torrence said. “He said, ‘you play basketball, don’t you ... I can’t wait to get you out here.’ He’s a great guy, one of the coaches and older people I really like. He listens to the players.

“I’m really going to miss him a lot,” Torrence added. “He’s one of the closest coaches I’ve had.”

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