John Durbin is set to become the first coach in the history of St. Mary athletics to be inducted into a state hall of fame.
The former Vikings and Lady Vikings cross country and track coach will be inducted into the Kentucky Track and Cross Country Coaches Association hall in January, validating a seven-year coaching career that spanned from 1993-1999.
"It's quite a thrill," said Durbin, who is now the chief financial officer at Paducah Bank and remains an avid runner. "It's one of those things where you read about hall of fames and all that, any hall of fame is cool. This one is about what I love the most, running, and what I had a passion about for a stretch of time."
Durbin is a St. Mary alum who finished second as an individual at the 1973 KHSAA Class A cross country state championship. As a coach at St. Mary, his girls won six regional championships and the boys won three.
The girls won state championships three straight years, 1994-96, and finished second twice, while the boys won it once, in 1998.
Prior to Durbin's arrival as coach, St. Mary's girls had never finished higher than 10th as a team at state. He ended up coaching St. Mary's first-ever team state championship in any sport.
"It was one of those things where we had the right mix at the right time. It's hard to get the right mix," he said.
The state championships were special for Durbin, whose own team fell short in the '70s while he ran despite his team being favored to win state.
He was asked to coach in 1993 when his daughter Aubrey was a sixth grader. Aubrey went on to finish in the top 15 at state for the next six years, with Jackie Wagner (twice) and Adrienne Lima both winning state.
Following Aubrey's graduation to Centre College, he left the program so he could watch her run in college.
But he still goes to the state meets every year, saying he loves to see the best runners each season. It all goes back to his years spent as St. Mary's coach.
"It was something I loved to do, and not just my daughter. There were some great runners and great kids on those teams," he said.
Durbin will be inducted into the coaches hall of fame on Jan. 7.
Paducah Sun article