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Former Skyline coach doing just fine in Nocona

by TED MADDEN / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on February 23, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Nocona is a hundred miles away from Dallas, but it might as well be a thousand. It's a small town, with just over 3,000 people, where there is only one high school, and no one is a stranger.

One of the town's claims to fame is the Nokona Glove company, which makes baseball gloves.

"Actually in 1934 we made our first baseball glove." Ron Story, the vice president of Nokona Gloves. "And then a year later we made a football, and then a year later a leather football helmet."

JD Mayo is helping the town become known for its basketball, too. He's been coaching a long time, but the little details are still very important to him. On Tuesday, Nocona had a playoff game. Earlier in the day, Mayo had his players in for practice during their athletic period, a short 45-minute session before lunch. During that time, the fundamentals were still stressed; for example, during one drill players dribbled two balls at the same time while keeping their eyes up.

Even on game day, the team was still practicing.

"Seek excellence," Mayo told his players after the workout. "You don't decide your future. What you decide are your habits, your choices."

For 38 years, Mayo was a big city coach -- that's how long he coached in the DISD, including 33 years as Skyline's head coach. But Mayo has always been a small town guy.

We had lunch together, and Mayo shook hands with everyone he saw before we sat down at our table. I joked with Coach throughout the day that I couldn't get any work done, because he kept introducing me to everybody we came in contact with.

Nocona seems to fit Mayo like a pair of cowboy boots, which they make at the Montage Boot Company. They even made Mayo a pair of boots to commemorate his 700th career win, which came in the fall of 2009.

Even then, the town knew they were lucky to have Mayo, and over his two seasons with the basketball program, it's become obvious on the court. Two years ago, the Indians won just 7 games. In Mayo's first year, they were above .500. This year, they won 20. It was the best season they'd had in 18 years.

Mayo's coaching goes way beyond x's and o's on the court, as his players are well aware of.

"We get off the bus, our shirts are always tucked in, ties always tight," said point guard KJ Stanley. "Make sure everything's clean, there's no trash in the locker room."

"He seems to get along with everybody, in town from what I've seen," said forward Dalton Pruitt. "Everybody loves him and everybody praises on how blessed they are to have him here."

It was 2 years ago when Mayo was relieved of his coaching duties in the DISD, and it wasn't by choice. But like everything else in his life, Mayo now considers it a blessing.

"It's a God thing," says Mayo. "You know sometimes what the enemy means for bad, the good Lord means for good, and this has been a God thing."

Nocona lost it's playoff game to Godley, played Tuesday night in Keller. But they'll be back next year, with the right man leading the way again.

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