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Dodgen calls ‘time out’

Donald Dodgen’s leave of absence as head coach of Farragut High School varsity boys basketball also was felt by the school’s sister program.

“It was the weirdest day I’ve had here at Farragut, without coach Dodgen in shoot-around [Friday] after school,” said Wes Edmonds, Lady Admirals head coach, about Dodgen’s sudden leave due to an undisclosed medical condition, announced Friday, Jan. 22.

“Something didn’t feel right,” Edmonds added prior to serving as interim FHS boys assistant coach, under interim head coach Chris Cool, Friday in a game at West High School won by the Rebels 74-70.

Michael Reynolds, FHS principal, did not disclose Dodgen’s exact ailment, only saying he left school Friday with a “serious” medical condition.

Though Dodgen required neither emergency medical assistance nor hospitalization Friday according to Reynolds, the FHS principal added, “the risk can be great” if Dodgen had continued “staying on his feet,” an ongoing aggravating factor in his ailment.

“He has been struggling of late, really trying to hang tough for his team,” Reynolds said. “Now it has become an impossibility at this point.

“They’re still trying to determine what it is,” Reynolds added. “We hoped that it would take care of itself, but it got aggravated to the point of becoming serious.

“Doctors had given him an ultimatum.”

However, “With time, we certainly feel he can make a full recovery and be back,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds, Cool and Dwayne Simmons, FHS athletics director, informed team members Friday afternoon.

After Farragut’s loss Friday, Cool said, “It was horrible news this morning ... it’s a tough situation because I love coach Dodgen. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for coach Dodgen … ’cause he’s built a great program.

“I don’t know what the situation is — I don’t know if it’s going to be a day or two, a month or the whole season,” he added. “I hope he gets better and I hope he gets back, ’cause I love him to death.

“If not, then we’ll just do the best we can do.”

An all-state player at Gatlinburg-Pittman in the late 1960s in his 14th season at FHS, Dodgen has won 649 games in 37 seasons as a head coach. That includes coaching at his college alma mater, Tennessee Wesleyan, Athens, where he was a standout forward in the early 1970s.

“I have tremendous respect for coach Dodgen,” Reynolds said.

Edmonds, whose FHS girls beat West Friday 51-35, labeled Dodgen “a great guy, and he’s helped me more than I could say, kinda steering me along. I wish him nothing but the best, and want him to come back as soon as possible.”

As for Dodgen’s physical education teaching duties, Reynolds said the coach’s status is “day to day,” adding, “he wants to come in and teach” but will abide by “what his doctors say he can do.”

Reynolds said the situation is “upsetting” to Dodgen “because he loves those kids.”

“We expect the players to rally around and not let their coach down,” he added. “They have to learn that family pulls together.”

Wayman McLaughlin, FHS senior point guard, said upon hearing the news Friday afternoon, “We were kinda in a state of shock. As a team, we didn’t exactly know how to take it.

“There was no forewarning, nothing really let us know before that he was hurt,” McLaughlin added. “We wish the best to him.”

Taylor Diegel, junior guard, said “it was tough when we heard about coach Dodgen; but, overall, I think it pulled us together pretty close.”

Trevlyn Singleton, senior forward, said about Dodgen, “I felt sorry for coach, and we hope he’s OK and he gets back quick.”

FHS teams host district 4-AAA foe William Blount Friday, Jan. 29.


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