Don Richardson certainly didn’t have any intention of going back into coaching when he retired after 35 amazingly successful seasons at Madison Central High School.

It wasn’t until an old friend and colleague asked for his help that Richardson started to seriously consider a return to coaching.

“I think I owed (Beverly),” Richardson said of long-time Model baseball coach Beverly Dezarn. “He helped me for years out at Madison Central. He’s been after me for while, so I figured why not. Some of the boys talked to me and wanted me to come and I thought maybe if I could help them out, I’d be glad to do that.”

So, after more than 14 years, the 73-year-old Richardson was talked into coming out of retirement to take a position as an unpaid assistant with the Model baseball team.

Richardson’s decision to return not only reunited the long-time friends, but gave Model one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the state. Richardson and Dezarn, who just turned 69, have more than 80 years of combined coaching experience.

“As a coach you try to find the best people you can to help you,” Dezarn said. “Where else to look than coach Richardson? He’s got all the experience and expertise. Why not use a guy like that?”

Dezarn was an assistant boys basketball coach for almost 20 years under Richardson at Central. The two long-time friends first coached together in 1969 and were together when Central advanced to the 1987 Sweet 16 semifinals.

“We worked together all those years and I’ve always had a great relationship with coach Dezarn,” Richardson said. “We are just compatible. We think a lot alike.”

Richardson spent more than two decades as basketball coach at Central, but had his most success as a baseball coach. During his 35-year career, he compiled an astonishing 952-157 record, including a 40-0 state championship team in 1982.

The Indians finished that record-breaking season as the top-ranked team in the country and Richardson eventually ended his career second on the state’s all-time win list.

“I’m a little biased, I guess. I think that is the greatest feat that’s ever been accomplished in Kentucky at any level,” Richardson said. “Eastern won a couple of national championships, but they did it with kids from Georgia and Alabama. We did it with Madison County kids.”

Richardson retired in 1992, five years after Dezarn, but both men eventually ended up coaching again — ironically at cross-town rival Model.

Dezarn agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to take over at Model in 1997 to coach his son’s team.

“I retired in 1987. Of course, Don didn’t retire until a little bit later on that than,” Dezarn said. “After I retired, I was off for a couple of years and they needed a baseball coach and I got drafted into it and I’ve been here ever since.”

And almost a decade later, Dezarn drafted his old friend to join him at Model, this time as his assistant.

Richardson says he has thoroughly enjoyed his return to coaching and even though both men are as old, or older then most of their current player’s grandfathers, they both feel like they can still build meaningful relationships with the young men.

“They respond real well, because, not bragging or anything, but we can still relate to these kids,” Dezarn said. “You have to change a little with the times, because times change and you coach a little bit differently then you did 25 years ago. Basically, coaching doesn’t change, but your approach to the game does.”

Richardson agreed to help out Dezarn at Model this year, but says he has not decided yet if he will return next season or for years to come.

“At my age, I can’t even buy unripe fruit,” Richardson said.

Dezarn is also unsure how much longer he will continue to coach. After nine seasons at Model, the coach still enjoys the game, being around the players and hopes to continue as long as his health allows him to.

“At our age, you go a year at a time,” Dezarn said. “We will just kind of play it year-by-year. We aren’t ready to make any long-term plans.”

After more than 35 years of coaching at Madison Central, Richardson will finally get to face his old team next week. The Patriots will take on the Indians Tuesday in the opening round of the 44th District Tournament, in what is certain to be an emotional game for the long-time Central coach.

“That will be a tough thing in a way,” Richardson said. “I’ll always love those people, but now I’m at Model and I’m going to use every fiber I know to help (us) win the game. I couldn’t be there 35 years and not have good feelings about those young people.”

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