Donovan Bridgeforth, who guided Jamestown to a boys basketball state tournament championship game in 2017, said he resigned recently after four seasons as the Eagles’ coach. He has accepted a position as an assistant coach with the Apprentice School women’s program.
“God works in mysterious ways,” Bridgeforth said. “I was asked if I was interested in it and I said I definitely was.
“It’s ironic, but four years ago I was crying with a group of girls because I was leaving, and now I’ll be coaching a new group of females. I truly appreciate the opportunity being given to me.”
Bridgeforth is referring to his resignation at Williamsburg Christian Academy, where he guided the girls basketball team to consecutive Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III state finals. He left there for Jamestown, where he compiled a 66-33 record in four seasons, the first two of which were his best.
The Eagles had mostly been a second-division team in the Bay Rivers District in the decade before he took over. They went 17-6 in his first season, missing a state semifinal berth with a close loss to Lake Taylor in the regional. He then guided the Eagles to a 27-3 mark and the Class 4 (then called Group 4A) state championship-game appearance.
Led by backcourt twins Evan Wang and Mason Wang, the fast-breaking, sharp-shooting Eagles mimicked their coach’s never-back-down style defensively. They galvanized the school like few athletic teams there ever have. Students packed the stands for home games against fierce rivals Smithfield, Grafton and Lafayette, as well as the six-game run of conference and regional playoff victories.
After state tournament victories in Salem over William Fleming and Handley, the Eagles’ season ended with a loss to Loudoun Valley in the state championship game at the VCU Siegel Center.
“Donovan and I had a fiery relationship on the court but got along well off of it,” said Grafton’s Jeremy Jordan, who coached the Clippers to Group 4A state finals in 2012 and ’13. “People don’t realize what it takes to make that ride to a state championship game, starting with planning out of season to preseason practice and the season itself.
“He accomplished a lot that year.”
Bridgeforth said, “I’ll always keep those memories close. Jeremy is one of the best coaches in the state, and I learned so much from him.
“Smithfield (a state semifinalist in 2017) was a great competitor, and scheming against good coaches like Doug Baggett (Tabb), Bobby Woollum (Lafayette) and Todd Bowden (Poquoson) was challenging. If you would’ve told me four years ago I’d be moving on to the college level, I wouldn’t have believed you.
“I definitely learned a lot during my tenure at Jamestown that helped prepare me. I hope that what I learn at the Apprentice School with (head coach) Nicole Jackson will give me the experience I need to move to the Division I level.”
Bridgeforth said his duties with the Builders will include recruiting, as well as helping conduct day-to-day practices and summer workouts. Bridgeforth trains basketball players as a profession with Dream Chasers, the James City County-based organization he founded.
Jamestown is searching for Bridgeforth’s successor.
“Jamestown High School thanks Mr. Bridgeforth for his hard work and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” Jamestown athletic director Ken Edwards said.