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Longtime Lecanto coach Ron Allan gets call to Hall

On the court or playing field, Ron Allan is in his element. It’s been that way since he arrived at Lecanto High as a fledgling 22-year-old coach in 1983.

But Saturday in Daytona Beach, Allan will be taken out of his comfort zone, facing a daunting task: public speaking.

An acceptance speech will be part of the festivities at the Florida Athletic Coaches Association’s 42nd annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Allan will join Crystal River’s Earl Bramlett, part of the Class of 2007, as the only inductees ever from Citrus County.

“To be the second person from our county to ever be honored, it’s kind of a big deal,” Allan said. “I look through the names of the people who have been honored, 22 of those people I’ve worked with. To be deemed worthy to be with those people, it’s humbling.

“I’ve never been big on individual accolades. It’s one of those things. It’s an honor to be looked at by your peers, to make a big enough impact on your sport and athletics as a whole.”

Allan, who has been Lecanto’s athletic director since 2010, is in his second year of his second tenure as girls basketball headman. He previously spent 18 seasons at the helm, from 1989-2007, taking the Panthers to regionals 11 times.

It’s that sport that has garnered him his greatest success and notoriety — he was the state chairperson for eight years — but he has worn many more hats at Lecanto over the past four decades. In fact, it’s basically easier to name the sports in which he hasn’t coached.

After 21 years as an assistant, Allan became the head varsity football coach in 2007 and held the position for four seasons.

For 10 years starting in the 1983-84 school year, Allan served as head softball coach, guiding the Panthers through the transition from soft-pitch to fast-pitch.

He assisted in boys basketball, was the junior varsity girls basketball coach for three years prior to taking over the varsity gig. He coached girls golf for four years, swimming for two and track and field for one. He spent six years as a wrestling assistant and a few doubling as baseball assistant coach during his softball days.

He had the opportunity to coach three of his four sons, and the Ohio native has done it all at the same campus.

“It’s always been special to me,” Allan said. “When they called me for an interview in 1983, I had to look at the map and thought, ‘This place is in the middle of a forest.’

“It’s special for us. It always will be. It’s the only place my kids went to school. It’s where we call home.

“Just the people, the community, the Citrus County community, it’s been a blessing to work with. There’s heated rivalries, but we take care of our own. I can’t think of any place else I would have wanted to be.”

Allan was particularly complimentary of the administrators he has worked with at Lecanto and within the school system. Early on, he got to know Sam Himmel, who would go on to become the current superintendent.

“It’s recognition of his selflessness and service to athletes,” Himmel said of Allan’s Hall of Fame induction. “He has impacted many student-athletes around the county. It’s an honor for our district to have someone inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“I think Ron represents us well. His beliefs, his high expectations of the students and the school system, they represent what Citrus County stands for.”

Allan admits the magnitude of this accomplishment hasn’t quite registered, but he figures that’ll come once he’s up accepting his plaque and having to deliver that pesky speech.

He has looked down the list of Hall of Fame coaches and seen names such as Hernando High’s Tom Varn and Ernie Chatman, or longtime South Sumter football coach Inman Sherman, and marveled that he’ll join their fraternity.

“I’ve gotten a chance to work with a lot of great coaches and a lot of people I’ve admired,” Allan said. “I guess it means I’m old.

“It’s a testament to what the kids have accomplished over the years in the sports I’ve worked with, especially girls basketball.”

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