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Dodgen gracious to Blevins’ record;BHS softball job open after 10 years


Mark Blevins has a big fan among the KIL boys basketball coaching fraternity.

It’s none other than his archrival coach at Farragut, Donald Dodgen.

“I’ve known Mark for twenty years, and I’ve always said the two greatest coaches in Knox County are Mark Blevins and Jody Wright [Fulton], and I’ll say that as long as I live,” Dodgen said. “Their records speak for themselves.”

At Bearden, Blevins has averaged one District 4-AAA championship per season in his first 12 years: six regular season crowns and six tournament tiles with a 326-98 overall BHS record entering this week.


Also included are four Region 2-AAA tourney titles, seven sub state appearances and three state trips (1995, 2002, 2006).

Overall as a varsity head basketball coach entering this week, Blevins, 53, is a combined 596-269 as a basketball head coach with Johnson County High School boys, Bluefield College (Va.), South-Doyle Lady Cherokees and Bearden in 25 years as a hoop skipper.

Dodgen, 56, cited one example from their college coaching days where having Blevins down doesn’t automatically mean having him beat.

Making what Dodgen said was “about a six-hour trip” to Bluefield, the coach’s TWC team led Blevins’ Bluefielders “by ten points with about two minutes to play,” and Dodgen remembered whispering to an assistant coach, “we’re going to get out of here early tonight.”

Next thing you know, “double overtime,” Dodgen added. “We won, but we didn’t get back home until five or six o’clock in the morning.

“When you’re playing a Mark Blevins-coached team, you better be ready to play. He’s never going to beat himself.”

SOFTBALL SUCCESS

Having also coached baseball at Bluefield for seven seasons in addition to serving as a head coach in track and field and gymnastics at high schools in West Virginia dating back to the 1970s, Blevins had program-building success as head coach of the BHS softball team for 10 seasons before resigning.

Taking over a program with a 121-177 record, Blevins went 256-127 from 1997 to 2006 and won two District 4-AAA regular season titles and one district tourney crown. That also included three region tournaments and one sub-state appearance.

His 2005 team that finished 17-0 against District 4-AAA competition to sweep the regular season and tourney titles highlighted his softball coaching success.

“You know, you love the kids,” Blevins said about the mixed emotions of his decision to resign. “Also, you want them to have the best chance of winning.”

Blevins said “the overlap” between the end of basketball season and the start of softball season was a big factor in his decision. “I just felt like it was better for the kids to have someone full-time.”

Also a factor were a few emotionally draining losses — namely a 2003 close setback to Maryville in the region tournament. “... That one was a hard one to swallow because that year we would have gone to state,” he said.

Having long-time BHS assistant coach Nick Green, who is now at Powell, made Blevins’ late arrivals to softball much less of a factor.

“Nick knew everything, he’d been with me so long, he could go out there and it was just like me putting everything together,” Blevins said.

 

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