Durham News: Sports

Deputy sheriff, coach serves community in a new way

Voyager Academy softball coach Don Ladd brings years of experience as an assitant coach with travel softball teams.
Voyager Academy softball coach Don Ladd brings years of experience as an assitant coach with travel softball teams.

Name: Don Ladd

Coaching: Voyager softball

Day job: Chief Deputy Sherrif of Durham.

Coaching resume: Assistant coach, N.C. Spinners travel club, 1998-2002. N.C. Dominators assisstant coach, 2003. Cape Fear Storm assistant coach, 2004-present. Durham Riverside High assistant coach, 2004-14. Voyager Academy coach, 2014-present.

Five Questions

How do you go from the sheriff’s office to softball: “When my daughter (Jennifer) joined the N.C. Spinners, I had no idea what we were getting into. … Sitting and watching games from the stands all summer got pretty boring. So when the opportunity to coach came up, I took it. … In 2004, I thought there was absolutely no way I could devote the necessary time to coaching a high school team. (Then-Durham Sheriff Worth Hill) had coached me when I played football at Southern High, and he reminded me that coaching was another way for people in law enforcement to give back to the community.”

Biggest challenge moving from 4A Riverside to 1A Voyager: “We don’t have any facilities yet. We practice at a North Durham Little League’s field – Catsburg Field – and play our home games at Butner Athletic Park” about 25 minutes north of the Voyager campus.

Why coach: “Watching a player achieve something they didn’t realize they could do … seeing their demeanor change, seeing them gain that new confidence – that’s what’s really rewarding. It’s not all about championships and trophies.”

Worst thing so far in your first season at Voyager: “Rain. We started 2-1, and that’s great. But we’ve lost nine games to weather. That’s the most frustrating thing this year.”

The differences between club and varsity teams: “With a travel club, you’re going to have 10, 12, maybe 14 players who can really play. You recruit more than you coach. In high school, most coaches are going to have four to five players, if they’re lucky, who can contribute as soon as they join the team. You need to be a teacher of the game.”

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