Spending 30 years in coaching and the last several at Duncan, Coach Mike Fitts will step down as the Duncan Lady Demons basketball coach due to health reasons.
Joining Duncan as an assistant coach under Coach Grant Givens, Fitts, who has been the head coach for the last three seasons, said it was a difficult decision to make but is proud of what they accomplished.
“It really goes back to being an assistant with Coach Givens — when I stepped in with him and we were just trying to take the program and get it back to where it was really competitive. When he left, I had the opportunity to take the program and hopefully improve it as time (went) on,” Fitts said. “I think that has been done. Stepping away from a program that is on the rise is difficult because you see their potential in what they can be and with who we have coming back and who we have coming up in our lower grades. Their potential of what they can accomplish — pretty much the sky is the limit.”
Over the last year, Fitts said his health has shown no improvements but also hasn’t gotten worse. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, he became higher risk and chose to step down and retire.
This season, Fitts relied on his assistants, Amanda Lard and Rashelle Carr, to help him coach. The 2019-2020 season saw the Lady Demons beat four ranked teams including a huge win at Chesapeake Arena against MacArthur High School.
“I would like to thank the assistants in Amanda Lard and Rashelle Carr because I delegated a lot to them this year and they were a large reason for our success this year — to be able to beat four ranked teams,” Fitts said. “One thing that can never be taken away from this group is beating Lawton Mac at Chesapeake. We were able to beat them in the largest indoor basketball arena in Oklahoma and that is a big deal that we got to do and the assistant coaches had a lot to do with that.”
Fitts also said a big reason for Duncan’s recent success was the foundation laid by the middle school coaches, including this year’s coaches in Shantika Scott and Dillon Southerland.
“If they don’t set the foundation, there is no house that will be built and that is the difference of building a foundation on rock and building one on sand,” Fitts said. “Those guys are extremely important to everything at the high school level … Those younger coaches and the parents out there who are coaching their kids in third, fourth and fifth grade — they have taken time out of their day and money out of their pocket to allow these kids to go play in tournaments in the city and things like that. It helps the program quite a bit and the program is sitting in a position better overall than it has been in awhile and that is due to a lot of people.”
Having stops in Rush Springs, Byng, Lone Grove, Pottsboro, Texas and Duncan, Fitts’ 30 year career may be over, but he will still follow the sport of girls basketball, including the Lady Demons the next several seasons.
As Duncan Public Schools begins the search for a new girls head basketball coach, Fitts said he wanted to thank his family, former players, coaches and everyone who was a part of his programs.
“I do want to thank my family for riding it out because it is not easy being a coach’s family or a coach’s wife. It is tough but they have ridden (SIC) it out and they have been extremely supportive and I thank them for all they do,” Fitts said. “I most of all want to thank the players because they are the ones that make the sacrifices and they are the ones that really sacrifice more than anyone knows. People don’t realize what athletes sacrifice today compared to years past — to go play a game and to be a part of practice and do things. This is one of the most unselfish groups that I have been around and it was all about team and that is hard to do. As far as all of the other girls, not just in Duncan, but all of the other schools, I want to thank them for playing and sticking with it. It is not easy to do and it is not that easy to be able to compete at a high level as our girls have over the years.”