In more ways than one, Lexington Christian Academy felt like it found the perfect fit for its girls’ basketball coaching vacancy.
Michael Menifee, who for the last two years led the Danville’s girls, was approved to hire by LCA’s personnel review board on Monday night. He succeeds Kent Miller, who resigned upon completion of his second season with the program.
In addition to leading the Eagles on the court, Menifee will fill an open spot in the school’s finance department. Before serving as a teaching aid at Danville the last two years, Menifee spent 20 years as a bank manager. A desire to coach full time made intense weeks that could reach upwards of 60 hours no longer feasible, so he left the corporate life and got certified to help in the classroom.
“Education is a different animal all its own,” Menifee said with a laugh.
The hard part now is saying goodbye to his alma mater. Menifee, who also coaches in the Lexington Future AAU program, was part of the last Danville team to play in the boys’ Sweet Sixteen in 1990 (it lost in the first round to Clay County).
“You make decisions and you learn as you go along,” Menifee said. “ … Once I actually met with my team it got to be an emotional thing. It is my school and for two years we had to break some barriers down and we really grew to be more of a family than a basketball team. That made it really, really, really tough.
“But the beauty of it is, as much as it hurt both the girls and myself, they’re just as supportive of me getting this new position. Although they don’t want me to go, we have this connection where they’ll say that, ‘Well if this is what you think’s the best thing for you, we’re going to support you.’ It’s tough when that’s your school and they gave me the first opportunity to be a head coach, but it’s just part of the coaching business I guess.”
Menifee, who graduated from the University of Kentucky with an economics degree and lives in Lexington, has previously been a boys’ assistant at LCA and Sayre. He worked under current Eagles boys’ coach Nate Valentine before taking the girls’ job at Danville.
“Already being there, I had a feel for it and what to expect from Terry (Johnson) as far as being an athletic director,” Menifee said. “He’s one of probably the best athletic directors out there as far as really supporting the program. Not one program, but the total of athletics. You’ll see him at a girls’ soccer game or volleyball game and cheering just as hard as he would be at a boys’ basketball game or football game. That in itself was a big contributing factor to me wanting to go there, and then just knowing the athmospher and landscape.”
Menifee got into coaching in part because he wanted to help his alma mater reach the biggest stage. That didn’t materialize in his two years at Danville, but the Admirals did go undefeated against 45th District competition in the regular season for the first time in school history.
Now he’ll look to return LCA to its former glory. The Eagles, which won a state title in 2007 and played in another state tournament in 2009, have not finished with a winning record since the 2010-11 season.
“Sometimes we have plans, and dreams and hopes and we don’t get to ’em,” Menifee said, “but I’ve got a lot of other ones that I’ve achieved along the way that I didn’t ask for.”