A Legacy Forged: Doneva Bays inducted into Carter County Sports Hall of Fame

Published 5:18 pm Monday, March 18, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

BY C.Y. Peters

On May 18 at Milligan University, the spotlight will shine not only on the athletic achievements but the enduring legacy of Doneva Bays. Friends, family, and admirers will gather to witness the induction of a coaching titan into the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame.

Bays, a name synonymous with Milligan athletics, embarked on her coaching journey in 2008. In 16 remarkable seasons, she carved her name into the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) history as the winningest coach, amassing a remarkable 316-233 record. Her ability extended beyond the sidelines, earning her the AAC Coach of the Year accolade in 2016 and 2023, a testament to her strategic brilliance and leadership acumen.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The pinnacle of Bays’ coaching career manifested in three NAIA national tournament appearances from 2018 to 2020. The 2018 squad secured victory in the opening round, while the 2019 team achieved a historic milestone by hosting the first-ever national championship event on Milligan’s campus.

Her coaching accolades continued to stack up, with the 2020-21 season seeing Bays recognized as the AAC Coach of Character. Seven seasons boasting 20 or more wins, a career-high 31 victories in 2016, and an unblemished conference worksheet underscored her consistency and commitment to excellence. Bays maintained a winning conference record for an astounding 15 consecutive seasons, culminating in the 2023 team’s record-breaking .905 winning percentage in AAC play.

Beyond the volleyball court, Bays transcended traditional boundaries by initiating and coaching a men’s program on the club level in 2014. Her commitment to fostering talent and promoting the sport’s growth went beyond gender lines, leaving an indelible mark on Milligan’s athletic landscape.

Bays’ journey with Milligan began as a standout player from 1993 to 1996, where she left an enduring impact on the volleyball and basketball courts. A four-time All-Tennessee/Virginia Athletic Conference honoree in volleyball, she held records for kills, kills per game, and hitting percentage, etching her name in the program’s history.

Transitioning seamlessly to basketball, Bays displayed versatility as a Buffalos player from 1993-94 through 1996-97. Her 1,044 career points and pivotal role in the 30-5 team’s undefeated TVAC play, conference tournament victory, and Sweet 16 appearance in the NAIA Division II national tournament solidified her status as an all-around athlete.

In 2009, Bays was rightfully inducted into the Milligan Athletics Hall of Fame, commemorating her exceptional playing career. Her influence extended further in 2021 when she became the athletic department’s first-ever senior woman administrator, contributing to the institution’s administrative and leadership facets.

The Carter County Sports Hall of Fame will not only celebrate her achievements but recognize the enduring impact of a coach and player whose legacy would forever resonate through the corridors of Milligan University.