On the Wednesday before David Duhon’s 2000 Airline Lady Vikings’ team was due to leave for a Thursday playoff game at McDonough 35, Duhon’s mother, Kay, passed away.
His father encouraged him to take his unranked team south because that’s what his mother would have wanted.
“When I got on the bus, the girls had a bunch of cards and notes for me showing their support,” Duhon said. “Then we went down there and beat the No. 2 team in the state that was 28-3 at the time. That was really special.”
After 23 years at Airline and 34 years in the coaching profession, Duhon announced his retirement from the sidelines Thursday afternoon. It was something he had pondered since mid-January.
“The last time God told me to do something and I didn’t listen, it was painful,” Duhon said. “I’m not tickled pink to be leaving, but it’s time.
“And I won’t be coaching anywhere else. If I were going to continue coaching, I’d stay at Airline. I absolutely love this place. And we have a promising group coming back.”
Another of Duhon’s top memories as a coach was the year his team played for the state title and standout Emily Carter missed some key free throws late as the Lady Vikings lost.
“Emily walked off the court and fell into my arms crying,” Duhon said. “I wouldn’t trade that moment for any state championship.”
In addition to the state title tilt, Airline competed in three Sweet Sixteens and won 481 contests under Duhon’s direction.
He also coached at Haynesville and Byrd before moving to Viking Drive.
“When I get some place, I fall in love and don’t want to leave,” said Duhon, a Southwood and Louisiana Tech graduate.
The Lady Vikings made 20 state playoff appearances in his 23 years and his teams averaged 21 wins per campaign. What happens next for Duhon is up in the air.
“I have absolutely no plans,” he said. “God hasn’t told me what to do next.”
Airline athletic director Ronnie Coker said in an email he will launch an immediate search for Duhon’s successor.