Less than one year after the sudden death of Dewayne Douglas, another assistant football coach at Eminence High School has passed away. Off the field, it’s been a tough year for these Warriors.
Don Daniels, a former head coach and high school principal who has been with the EHS football program the previous eight years, died last Thursday. His funeral was Monday in Louisville and, fittingly, he was laid to rest in a cemetery next to Male High School’s practice football field. Coach Daniels was 72.
“He was a tremendous football coach and a tremendous educator,” EHS principal and head football coach Steve Frommeyer said. “It’s a big loss for us. The older juniors and seniors were the ones really impacted the most by this loss. It was hard on all the boys. And for some, it reminded them of losing Coach Douglas.”
Douglas passed away last January. Afterwards, the Warriors decided to dedicate their season to him. This fall, Eminence finished the regular season at 7-3, then won the school’s first playoff game with a 30-12 victory over Ludlow. Ironically, Douglas and Daniels have the same DD initials, were linemen coaches, military veterans, big-time University of Kentucky fans and died in the same calendar year. Both will also be highly missed by the coaching staff, players and Eminence community.
Daniels was a head football coach at numerous high schools, including Betsy Layne, and was a high school principal. Frommeyer said Daniels retired and decided to work on a family farm in Henry County. He liked it so much that he moved to the Louisville area and bought five acres in Smithfield, where he lived up to his death. About eight years ago, Frommeyer talked him into helping coach the football program.
“I saw him working part-time at Wal-Mart and I recognized his face,” Frommeyer remembered. “He was sitting down stocking a bottom shelf at a snail’s pace when I said ‘Mr. Daniels, is that you?’ He told me he was bored to tears working so I said ‘we start practice in a few months, you should come help us out.’ He said he might do that.”
Daniels took a full-time job with the Whitney Young Job Corps program and took Frommeyer up on his offer. He worked with Whitney Young and with the football program up to this year.
“We really appreciated every time he came out and helped us, especially this past season. He was in pain every time,” Frommeyer said. “He had survived two previous cancers but he just couldn’t get past it this third time. I think he just fought and fought. He even made the comment that he wanted to stay alive long enough to see us win a playoff game. He just loved football.”
While the Warriors were playing to win a playoff game for Coach Douglas, they had no idea they were also playing for Coach Daniels.
The last time Daniels was on the sideline was against Gallatin County in early October when Eminence won in a nail-biter, 12-6. But what most people don’t know is against Ludlow in the playoffs five weeks later, he was watching from a truck parked beside the field. His son Donny, who is also a football coach, took him to that game. He did get to watch Eminence win that playoff game after all, less than one month before he closed his eyes for the final time.
Like Douglas, Daniels will be missed and remembered. They are missed for who they are, and remembered for everything they have given. Of course it’s sad that they both had to leave — especially so close together — but we should all be privileged to have known them. They will not be forgotten.
Tommie Kendall can be reached at (502)845-2858 or firstname.lastname@example.org.