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Duncan earns top coach honors

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By Paul Gable

In his first season as coach of the Grant County High School baseball team, Van Duncan wasted little time making a name for himself.

On the field, he helped guide the Braves to a 19-6 record and the team's first 32nd District championship in five years. In addition, he was named the 8th Region Coach-of-the-Year last week.

However, for all his accomplishments, Duncan is quick to remove the focus from himself and place it on his team, which he says he was "lucky to coach."

"I am very happy with our season. Winning the 32nd District title was the highlight of our season and it was our biggest goal that we set for ourselves at tryouts. Obviously, I felt very lucky and fortunate to have received the 8th Region Coach-of-the-Year Award, but my team is the reason I received that recognition," Duncan said.

Duncan was nominated by a coach that he has the utmost respect for, Simon Kenton's Jon Finn. The coaches in the region unanimously voted for Duncan to receive the honor.

"I was really surprised and appreciative. The fact that the voting was unanimous was another tribute to the team and the level of baseball we played this year. However, the real honor was the fact that Grant County was recognized for what our team did this year in regards to turning around our program and excelling both on and off the field. Coaching is easy when you have talented players and parents that are not afraid to work hard. I believed in them, they believed in me, and together we were able to bring home the 32nd District title when no one else thought it could be done. I am honored to have received this award, but I am even more honored to have been the coach of the 2008 Grant County High School baseball team," Duncan said.

Duncan credited his receiving the award to his coaching staff.

"I believe we have turned the program around. I think we will continue to be a threat to win the district and region from now on. This team will always hold a special place in my heart. This is a fine group of young men, and I expect nothing but great things from all of them. I wouldn't trade this team with any other in the state, and I will always feel that way," Duncan said.