Alabama coach seriously injured in fall

Originally appeared in Silent News, July 2001.

A recent fall has shaken up the Alabama School for the Deaf’s community. Don Hackney, a long-time coach and athletic director at ASD, suffered spinal injuries due to a 10-feet fall while trimming a tree. Currently at a spinal injury center, Hackney suffered a broken back, a compressed spine, bruised lungs, and a broken shoulder in the accident, in addition to cracking his 11th vertebra.

“It was definitely a shocker for me and I still am shocked. After knowing Hackney for 26 years – all of his years here – as a player for him for four years and as a coach for eight years, I find it hard to believe and accept,” said Bill Estes, girls’ basketball coach.

Hackney started his coaching career at the Kentucky School for the Deaf, then moved to the athletic program at ASD. He has quickly become one of the winningest prep athletics coaches in Alabama, most recently bringing his basketball team to Birmingham’s Final Four with a 32-2 record in 1996 and again in 1997 to the semi-finals with a 31-2 record.

Silent News named him national coach of the year four times, and he received many other honors on a local and statewide level. Hackney is also a marathon runner, and jogged 10 miles daily before the accident.

His supporters, however, are confident he will recover quickly. “I remember my most depressing loss to Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf girl’s team last year in Morganton, N.C., by one point. I thought we had the game till the waning seconds and I was totally crushed,” Estes said. “He came to me and said that it was a tough loss, but you have to keep your head up. He also said that I would have a new life tomorrow and life moves on. With the successful surgery he had recently, I have a strong feeling that he will overcome like he usually does.”

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