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Chuck Landon: Vinson's Perkey on a mission as coach

Feb. 27, 2014 @ 12:27 AM

Sometimes dreams do come true.

Not often, perhaps, but sometimes.

Just ask Josh Perkey.

He always dreamed of returning to his beloved alma mater, Vinson, to coach the storied basketball program he starred in during his middle school and high school days.

Well, guess what?

Sometimes pipe-dreams don't go up in smoke.

First, Perkey, 37, was hired to coach the Vinson Middle School boys basketball team for the 2013-14 season. Next, he led the Tigers to a share of the Wayne County regular-season championship, matching Buffalo's 9-1 record.

And, now, Perkey will be on the sideline at 6:30 p.m. Thursday coaching Vinson against Buffalo in the second round of the Wayne County Middle School boys basketball tournament at Ceredo-Kenova Middle School.

What a ride.

Want to know how long Perkey dreamed of all this happening?

"Since I was 18 and helping hang that banner up there," said a smiling Perkey, pointing to the rafters of the Don R. Smith Gymatorium and Gary Norris Court.

It was worth the wait.

That was obvious the instant the final home game of the season began recently with Perkey, former University of Charleston and Marshall University player, coaching Vinson against a Huntington St. Joe team coached by former Thundering Herd star David Wade.

The only thing more interesting than the coaching matchup was Perkey's strategy. He decided to sit quietly to prepare his Tigers for the noisy middle school tournament.

It didn't work.

"If I have to be up hollering to provide the energy, we're in trouble," Perkey told his team, after the first quarter ended in a 9-9 tie. "This is supposed to be your team."

Then, when a player wasn't paying attention during a timeout in the second half, Perkey pointedly asked him, "You got somewhere else to be? You sure?"

Yes, Perkey is as old-school as the men who molded him -- former Vinson coaches Smith and Norris.

That should come as no surprise.

Neither should this.

After raising money to build a beautiful locker room suite, which features cubicles and even a meeting area with a flat screen television mounted on the wall, Perkey put a padlock on the door.

The reason?

"Our players didn't respect their locker room," he said, referring to littering and clothes lying on the floor, "so I took it away from them. They ended up dressing in the cafeteria."

Somewhere Smith and Norris are smiling.

And so is Perkey because he always dreamed of following in their footsteps.

"Look at this," said Perkey, showing off the coaching office that hasn't changed in 40 years. "There's Coach Smith's old Vinson blazer hanging there. And right beside it is one of Coach Norris' championship jackets.

"Everyone who ever coached at Vinson leaves something behind."

What will Perkey's contribution be?

His heart.

But not for a while. He's having too much fun beating opponents with his full-court presses, inbounds plays and sets called from the bench.

"If I didn't have a good job I would already have quit it," said Perkey. "That's how much fun I'm having. I'd go back and get my teaching certificate. It's been a great job."

The unadulterated joy oozed off every inch of Perkey's 6-foot-7 frame as he talked. But he still had work to do that evening. There was a basketball court that needed mopping.

It's all part of the dream.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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