In February 2000, Joey Florence took a job at Ryan High School to be the Raiders’ next head coach.
Florence — now Denton ISD’s athletic director — was inheriting a team that won only one game in 1999, but he quickly turned Ryan not only into a contender, but a perennial power.
From 2000-03, Florence led the Raiders to four consecutive state title game appearances, winning championships in 2001 and 2002. During those two years, Ryan was nearly untouchable, going a combined 30-1.
Except the winning didn’t stop there.
Over the course of Florence’s 13-year tenure as Ryan’s head coach, Florence made another state title game appearance in 2010, all while forging a 152-37 record.
And on Friday, the Texas High School Coaches Association announced Florence as one of six inductees in the 2020 Hall of Honor — one of the most prestigious awards in the state.
“It’s a very humbling honor that when you’re coaching, you don’t set out to achieve,” Florence said. “I was surprised when I got the call. I was absolutely shocked, actually.”
In his 20-year career, Florence crafted a 205-53 record, winning 79.5% of his games. He never missed the playoffs.
Florence took his first head coaching job at Cooper in 1994 and became one of the youngest head coaches in the state. At the time, he was just 28 years old when then-Cooper Superintendent Fred Wilkerson hired him.
In six years at Cooper, Florence went a combined 53-16.
When he got to Ryan, the winning continued — a trait Florence attributes to all those around him. Florence credits Ellen Fuller, the principal at Ryan in 2000, as well as Vernon Reeves, the current principal at Ryan.
He also said this award would not have been possible without his assistant coaches, especially David Thomas, and most importantly, his players.
“The success that we had at Ryan goes to the talented kids we had and to the assistant coaches and the administration,” Florence said. “None of that would have happened without an administration that was committed.
“I’ve just been pretty fortunate and blessed to be in situations to have great players, great assistant coaches and great administrators. That’s the only way it happens. It’s not me, I can assure you.”
But perhaps above all else, Florence credits his father, Mickey, for shaping him into who he is today.
Florence calls his father the, “real coach Florence,” as Mickey led Rockwall to a state final appearance in 1972. Rockwall’s multi-purpose facility is named after Mickey Florence, who passed away in December 2000.
“My dad was my mentor,” Florence said. “He was very successful himself. He was a big part of me going into coaching. The only regret I have is I wish he was here. I am who I am today because of him.”
Florence will be honored at the THSCA Hall of Honor banquet in San Antonio on Saturday, July 18.
Looking back to his earlier days, Florence said that he would have never imagined Denton would eventually become his home. But 20 years after he got here, Florence is glad it has.
“To be here, and raise our kids here — I’m not very smart, but I’m smart enough to recognize that this is a great place to be,” Florence said.