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Nick Stokes was a junior at Decatur High School in 1999 when first-time head coach and athletic director Kyle Story took over a program that finished 3-6 the year before.
The Eagles were 3-7 that first year – but Stokes noticed a change.
“He changed the culture and raised expectations,” recalled the Decatur defensive coordinator Tuesday. “He was awesome to play for. You could tell he cared for us and wanted to work hard to be successful.”
Success followed. Story guided the Eagles to seven district titles and compiled a record 109 wins and 58 losses in 15 years at the helm. Monday, he was named the first head football coach at Frisco Independence High School, which will open in the fall.
Story said it’s tough to leave the school and community that gave him his first chance.
“They gave me the opportunity to be a head coach for the first time in 1999,” he said. “It was a chance to learn on the job. I’ve enjoyed my time here. It’s always an emotional time when you get ready to leave.”
After a 3-7 start at Decatur, his Eagles went 7-3 in his second year and missed out on the postseason on a tiebreaker in 2000. The Eagles went 5-5 in 2001 before starting the impressive run of six straight district titles between 2002 and 2007. Decatur posted a perfect regular season for the first time in 22 years in 2002, reaching the region semifinals. Under Story, Decatur had three perfect regular seasons and won 12 games twice.
“They’ve had a great program,” said Bridgeport athletic director and football coach Danny Henson. “The numbers speak for themselves.
“We’ve enjoyed competing against each other. One night a year, we were competing against each other doing the best we could to win. The other nights we were good friends. I’m going to miss him being next door. He’ll do a great job over at Frisco.”
In the Battle of Big Sandy, Story’s squads were 9-6 including a win in this year’s game. Story’s last Eagles team finished 9-4 and advanced to the third round of the playoffs before falling to Tyler Chapel Hill.
“He was a very inspirational guy. I was proud to play for him. He always had positive things to say,” said Decatur senior wide receiver Austin Givens. “He always told us to practice the way we played and give 100 percent effort in everything.”
Stokes said the influence of Story led him into coaching. He’s been on the Story’s staff for eight years.
“The reason I went into coaching was because of how much I respect him,” he said. “He’s been a big influence. I appreciate all the opportunities he’s given me.”
While the football program has enjoyed success during Story’s time in Decatur, so have many of the other athletic teams. The volleyball team won the Class 3A title this past season, and the cross country teams have won multiple titles since 1999.
“He does a good job and sees the big picture,” said Decatur ISD Superintendent Rod Townsend. “He’s very supportive of his people.”
Decatur girls coordinator and girls basketball coach Billy Garner added: “He’s been great to work with. He’s been very loyal. He’s been for the total program and did his best to make sure everyone got what they needed to be successful.”
As he leaves, Story notes the wins and trophies are not as important to him as the relationships he’s developed over his 15 years.
“The relationships with the players are what I value the most,” Story said.
He added that he will always cherish how the community rallied around his family in 2011 after his son Tyler suffered a severe knee injury and developed a blood clot that nearly cost him his leg.
“It was amazing how the community got together and the support we received,” Story said. “They do that for everyone. It’s a great community to be in.”
Now, Story continues his career in Frisco – and Decatur will start a new era with someone else in charge.
STORY BY NUMBERS
- 15 seasons at Decatur
- 109 wins
- 7 District titles
- .652 winning percentage
- 10 winning seasons
- 9 wins in 15 Battle of Big Sandy games
- 9 playoff appearances