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Tofft still on the run after 25 years

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Don’t bother asking Donna Tofft how many years she has been coaching at Lincoln High School. She has been on the run with the Zebras for 25 years and will not be stopping any time soon. Tofft was literally running last Wednesday, even with the school closed for Thanksgiving vacation. She ran 4 miles on the school’s track before going into the gym for a basketball scrimmage. Her exercise did not drain her legs. Tofft stood throughout the scrimmage as she watched the junior varsity girls team play. She even walked onto the court a few times to instruct the players. Such teaching opportunities are what keep Tofft coming back for more as a coach. She is coaching the junior varsity girls team this season after pinch-hitting as the varsity girls coach in 2009-10. Tofft is also the varsity softball coach and the Zebras’ athletic director. She lightened her load by hiring Dan Hicks for the varsity girls basketball job. She would rather have the junior varsity anyway “I’ve been a head coach, so I can let someone else do it,” Tofft said. “There’s a lot of little things that go into being a head coach. The biggest challenge is fundraising. There’s just no money.” Coaches do not make much money, considering all the hours. More and more teachers are getting out of sports for that very reason, leaving schools to find coaches who are not on campus. “It’s hard to find coaches, Tofft said, “especially with what they make you do if you’re not certificated. You have to have CPR, first aid and fingerprints. They have to jump through a lot of hoops.” Despite that, Tofft could have found a junior varsity girls basketball coach if she wanted to take a break. She is actually looking forward to working with Hicks and teaching younger players. “I wouldn’t have hired a coach if we didn’t have similar philosophies,” Tofft said of Hicks, who was the varsity girls coach at Colfax High for nine seasons after running the varsity boys team for 11. Hicks inherits the duties of arranging for officials, scheduling buses and finding someone to run the scoreboard. Junior varsity coaches do not have those headaches. Tofft can focus on coaching. “I love the coaching part,” she said. Tofft remembers the days when high school athletes played more than one sport for their schools. The demands of each sport are forcing athletes to pick the one in which they may have a future. “Coaches want their players to pay one sport year-round. It makes a huge difference,” she said. “I still see the crossover in sports. The footwork a girl learns in volleyball will help in basketball.” The days of three-sport athletes have come and gone. So have the days when Tofft went to work with her husband. Rich is enjoying retirement after teaching and coaching at Lincoln High. “He knows what goes on,” she said. “I keep him involved with me. He can’t be retired all the time.”