From his trips to the barber shop to running simple errands around town to walking the halls at South Walton High School, Seahawks girls basketball coach Kevin Craig can’t escape the attaboys these days.
‘Tis the life of a state championship coach.
Well, to be fair, a three-time state championship coach who last year was inducted into the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
The latest hardware, though, is what is raising the biggest fuss around Walton County, which hasn’t been able to contain its excitement over the program’s first state title. In continuing the love, now the community has another honor to collectively celebrate: Craig’s 2013 Florida Dairy Farmers 1A Coach of the Year award.
“This is neat,” said Craig, who was awarded a Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year award back in 1994 after the first of two state titles at Fort Walton Beach. “It’s a great honor, but it’s something that needs to be broken into 15 pieces.”
By that he means the accolade needs to be shared, not only by assistant coach Chip High and players but the community, administration and boisterous fan base that supported the Seahawks’ transformative and record-breaking campaign.
“I’m not one that is an I person,” he said. “And this award certainly is greater than me.”
Entering the season with a 30-plus year coaching resume of nearly 700 wins, six final four appearances and two state championships at Fort Walton Beach (1994 and ’99), Craig had already proven his acumen as a leader and great basketball mind.
But perhaps his work this year trumped all of his past accolades.
What started nearly a decade ago in taking over an 0-25 program, Craig was the face of a team that accomplished several firsts. Along with finishing the district slate 12-0, the Seahawks won a program-record 25 wins, went 13-0 at home for the first time, won their first region title and, of course, captured that elusive state crown.
And thanks to a live feed and up-to-date stats provided by playonsports.com, the entire community was able to take in the crowning achievement.
“Anywhere I go, I’ll see people that I know and it’s just amazing to see how many people watched the game," Craig said. "At Fort Walton, unless you traveled to the game or read the paper the next day, there wasn’t as much awareness. But with the different media platforms, everyone seemed to have watched it.”
The same crowd seemed to be viewing the announcement of Craig’s award, which was broadcast on a local Panama City news station.
“I’ve been getting congratulations all week,” Craig said. “The whole thing has been great.”
Brittany Brown named 6A's top player, Don Brown top coach
The Browns just keep racking up the accolades.
To the surprise of no one in the Sunshine State, two-time Daily News Player of the Year Brittany Brown was named the 2013 Florida Dairy Farmers 6A Player of the Year. And what comes as little shock to local fans who witnessed the coaching exhibition displayed by Don Brown, who was selected to coach the West Team in the Halifax All-Star Classic after leading the Indians to a 31-1 campaign and the state title game, the Choctawhatchee girls basketball coach was named Florida Dairy Farmers 6A Coach of the Year.
First commenting on his honor, coach Brown said, “It feels pretty good. Our ultimate goal was to win a championship and I really never strived to be coach of year. But sometimes the kids make coaches look pretty good. They just didn’t quit all year.”
The “kid” that made his job the easiest just so happened to be his actual kid.
A McDonald’s All-American finalist and a senior who will take her talents to Florida State University, Brittany Brown lit up every part of the stat sheet.
Showcasing the natural scoring ability to navigate the perimeter and the post, Brown’s silky smooth jump shot and ability to finish at the rim with either hand put her at 19 points per game. That clip came on 51 percent shooting on 2-point field goals and two 3-pointers per game, and she also shot an efficient 70 percent from the line. The versatility culminated with a career total of 2,068 points.
Not only was Brown able to create for herself, but her teammates. She led the team with five assists per game to go along with four rebounds and 6.2 steals per.
“She really worked at it all,” coach Brown said. “She tried to become a better player in every part of her game. We would visit college coaches and they’d say what she needed to get better at, and she would work at it. That really paid off. She was a well-rounded player.”
As for the hard work, he notes that a lot of it went on behind the scenes.
“I’m really happy for her because she’s been through a lot and has worked really hard on her own time. As her dad and coach, I’ve seen her work inside and outside the school. She’s put in the time in the weight room and the gym, so she deserves this.