Two former Danville track and field coaches will be honored Saturday when they are inducted into the Kentucky Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Coaches Hall of Fame.
James Atkins and the late Myron “Poochie” Fortune will be honored at the annual KTCCCA awards banquet Saturday in Lexington.
Atkins won four Class AA¿championships as head coach of the Danville girls, becoming the first Danville coach to win four state titles in any sport. He led the Admirals the school’s first state track and field title in 1981 and to consecutive championships in 1983-85. He also coached Danville girls teams that finished second in 1982 and fourth in 1980.
“He’s got a good personality, and he was fortunate that he had some really outstanding girls at Bate (Middle School) and he got some of my cross country girls to come out and run track. He had sprinters and relay people,” said former Danville coach E.G. Plummer, who coached the Danville boys at the same time Atkins coached the girls and who nominated both Atkins and Fortune for the coaches’ hall of fame. “And once they won a little bit, then they started taking pride in winning. They had a lot of speed and a lot of talent, but he was the one who pulled them all together.”
Atkins was recognized as a state coach of the year and nominated as a national coach of the year four times. He said this recognition is a reflection on the athletes he coached.
“It’s an honor, but ... the credit should go to all the girls on the team and all the parents of the girls who gave the time and made the sacrifices. Those girls have gone on to do a lot of neat things with their lives, and track was just something that gave them the organizational skills to do that,” he said.
Atkins later worked as an administrator in the Danville and Fayette County school systems, and he is currently the assistant vice president for diversity and an association professor of education at Centre College.
Fortune, a 1968 Danville graduate who was a sprinter during his high school career, began as a volunteer assistant coach under Plummer before later becoming a paid assistant during the years that Plummer coached both the boys and girls teams.
He was associated with 12 Danville championship teams, working primarily with throwers in the shot put and discus but also with other athletes, including hurdlers.
“He coached several state champions,” Plummer said. “He knew the technique, and he bellowed and hollered and yelled at them, and two or three of them would holler right back at him.”
Atkins said he is happy that he and Fortune are being inducted in the same class.
“That makes it a very special honor, because he was my assistant coach the whole time I coached. He’s a guy that touched kids for 20, 30 years,” Atkins said. “I had been working with E.G. about trying to get him inducted. It’s an honor to have both of us from Danville inducted at the same time, because we were working with a lot of the same kids.
Fortune, a longtime Danville schools employee, died in February 2010.
Atkins and Fortune join more than 100 other coaches in the KTCCCA hall of fame, including three men who coached at area schools: Plummer (inducted in 1989), Alvis Johnson of Harrodsburg (1991) and Larry Yeager of Mercer County (1993).