Lake Park High coach Dale Similton considers himself, as he puts it, "extra lucky." He says he has most everything he always wanted:
A good job, a good family, a good life.
Similton, a devout Christian, won his fourth consecutive Charlotte Area Christian Athletic Association conference championship last week with a 79-51 win over Carolina Christian.
His team finished the season 21-1.
He said he can't imagine being anywhere else. And it's good to see a good man land in a good place. As a kid, Similton was abandoned by his parents along with his six brother and sisters. They were split among foster homes.
Similton and two of his brothers were adopted by a Kannapolis woman named Lola Neal, and they lived with her for five years. Neal was getting up in age and couldn't care for the boys anymore
The boys ended up at a youth home called Boys Town, outside Pineville. Similton stayed there for 10 years, through his time at Pineville Elementary and Quail Hollow Junior High.
In high school at South Mecklenburg, Similton played for legendary basketball coach Dave Price and was a star wide receiver who eventually became an All-American at Mars Hill, determined to not let his tough circumstances hinder his ability to reach his goals: good job, good family, good life.
After college, Similton eventually got into coaching and once led Charlotte Latin's middle school team to a 17-1 record and studied under one of the state's best-ever coaches, Jerry Faulkner, who won more than 700 games.
After Latin, Similton helped upstart Covenant Day make the playoffs two years in a row and eventually got the job at Lake Park, where his wife is an assistant principal and his two kids attend school.
The family lives in the neighborhood in Indian Trail where the school is located. And this is where Similton thinks he was called to be.
"I think God wanted me to build an athletic program," said Similton, who has recorded a song about his faith, "Falling Away From Me," that is being released at his church, Central Church of God, and several others. "I attended Central Church for 16 years, and when they bought out Lake Park, an athletic job was open. When I met with them, I knew I'd make a good fit."
Similton's first team won a championship and he's won a championship every year since. Similton also coaches Lake Park's middle school team, which finished 17-1.
"It's amazing what's happened to me," Similton said. "I've come a long way. I am very blessed. I'm very fortunate to do what I do every day. I love these kids and they've grown so tremendously. We have kids who may be missing a father or a mother that I deal with every day. The kids just need a touch of love.
"God shaped me as a child, God shaped me at (Charlotte) Latin and Covenant Day to do what I'm doing now. I can't imagine doing anything else."
And why would he?
He has a good job, a good family.
A good life.