WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky (6/12/13) - Girls’ basketball in Webster County is a pretty big deal, just ask new head coach Tonya Wells.
The legendary player at Madisonville-North Hopkins High School and veteran coach at Hopkinsville was named the Lady Trojans’ newest head coach following the resignation of Parker McCalister on May 13.
The tradition of the Lady Trojan program was strong enough to bring Wells out of retirement and back into the coaching ranks after rebuilding the Hopkinsville girls’ program. Strong enough for her to navigate through a few logistics issues in her personal and business careers to make the deal work. Wells currently lives in Clarksville, TN., and runs a successful dentistry practice (since 1998) in Hopkinsville. By accepting the WCHS coaching job, she will move to her parents' home in Madisonville during the season and make the two-way commute from Madisonville to Hopkinsville to Dixon.
“That’s the only way this could work,” speaking of her parent’s home in Madisonville. “But I’m used to commuting, living in Clarksville and working in Hopkinsville, so that won’t be a problem. And my husband is tickled because he works at Hopkins County Coal.”
Travel time aside, the lure of inheriting a tradition-rich Lady Trojan program that will more than likely be one of the top three teams in the region next year was just too strong to resist.
“Basketball has always been my passion. I love coaching and I thinking I’m pretty good at it. I realized how much I missed it sitting out last year,” she stated. “When the job came open, I jumped at the chance (to apply). I know the history of Webster County and I have some knowledge of what they have now and what’s coming in the future. It’s a very exciting time for Lady Trojan basketball and for me personally. Webster’s girls basketball has one of the best traditions in the Second Region and I thought to myself ‘wow, I’d be crazy not to apply for this job’ ”.
Wells is a 1986 graduate of Madisonville-North Hopkins High School where she led the Lady Maroons to the state tournament with a 27-1 record. She is the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,908 points. After graduation, she signed with Western Kentucky University but a series of injuries cut her collegiate career short.
She began her coaching career in 2002 at Hopkinsville High School as an assistant coach in the boys’ program. She was part of the coaching staff that led the Tigers to a State Tournament Final Four appearance in 2003. Wells was then named the girls’ head coach in 2005, taking over a program that had won a combined six games in three years. She rebuilt the program to a regional powerhouse, winning the Second Region title in 2012 (the first in school history) and compiling a 123-76 record and two district championships in the eight-year span. During her tenure at Hopkinsville, Wells earned numerous coaching awards.
“We’re very fortunate to have a coach with her experience and success to take over our program,” noted WCHS athletic director Matt Bell. He introduced Wells to parents and players during a meeting Sunday afternoon at the school.
Wells was quick to explain her “no I in team” philosophy to those attending the meeting and also said she was ready for the challenge of continuing in the tradition of championship basketball as a Lady Trojan.
“The bar has been set very high, and I’m ready to get to work and continue that tradition. I look forward to getting on the floor and working with this talented group,” she added.
Wells was also very impressed with the parent support shown on Sunday, noting the lack of support at Hopkinsville but certainly refining her multi-tasking skills.
“I was the coach, manager and booster club there,” she said. “Not only did I coach, I washed uniforms, made sure the kids had something to eat and raised money by making phone calls while on my lunch hour at my office. This kind of support is incredible. To be able to come here and just coach and not have to worry about all the other things like that will be fantastic. With all the support from the community, I can focus my energy on coming in and doing what I ‘m good at and that’s coaching.”
Last year, Webster enjoyed its best season in 15 years under first-year head coach Parker McCalister with a 23-6 record and a All ‘A’ Classic Regional title. Webster’s season came to an end with a heartbreaking loss to University Heights Academy in the semi-final round of the Second Region Tournament.
Wells will take the reins of a squad that is “loaded”, including possibly two of the best players in the region in seniors Mariah Herrera and Darrian McNary. And she anticipates the Lady Trojans will continue with its run-and-gun, up-tempo still of play with a very intense defense.
“Yes, I’ve seen them and know a little bit about them and I don’t think there’s any reason why they can’t work hard and develop into college players,” she said with a grin. “I’m very impressed with them but I’m also very impressed with some of the young players as well. I’ve heard so much about this program and the kids ... their work ethic and their character ... and I think they will really respond well.
“That was one of the selling points of Webster County and for me to come out of retirement. I’m too old to try and rebuild a program like I did at Hopkinsville and keep up that kind of pace of doing all the other things besides coaching. I believe I can come right in here and just coach and that was very, very appealing to me and I’m thankful that Matt (Bell) and Tim (Roy) are giving me the opportunity. I wasn’t going to come out of retirement for just any program but Webster County certainly is that kind of program and I can’t wait to get started,” Wells concluded.
Kelley’s Calumet to sun shine on Kentucky football, news flows into June.
News and Views
Sports news, after the Kentucky Derby, becomes a crawl line at bottom of your teevee screen, right?
NEWS. Calumet Farm, the most visible and glorious red and white symbol of horse racing on the planet, valued at more than $40 million, is now under lease to native Kentuckian Brad Kelley.
VIEW. How perfect. Calumet in hands of a conservationist who grew up near Franklin, owns two horse farms in central Kentucky and thousands of acres in states across America kept safe from developers. That Kelley has no appetite for glad-hand celebrity, shuns crowds and publicity, make him an icon to me, the anti-thesis of, say fellow Fayette resident John Calipari. Another thing: Kelley’s racing colors, black and gold. Perfect.
NEWS. Southeastern Conference directors of athletics met in Destin, Florida last week and voted unanimously to “authorize the conference to explore a primary site for the men’s basketball tournament.”
VIEW. Hardly the heart of the SEC, Nashville has two large pluses.
1. Bridgestone Arena seats 19,395 for basketball.
2. It’s close enough to keep Big Blue Nation coming to spend money and far enough from Lexington to keep pundits from dubbing it the UKIT.
The SEC Tournament is already set for Nashville in 2015, 2016 & 2019. Sites for 2017 and 2018 remain open.
NEWS. Eddie Sutton, the ex-Kentucky coach (1985-89) whose photo was left out of coaches section in UK’s basketball media guide for several years, has been invited to visit Lexington, attend UK practices by John Calipari.
VIEW. Yes. An invitation overdue. Sutton’s teams contributed 88 wins to the nation’s winning program. He is 77, has wrestled with personal demons, and lost his wife last year. And, Eddie Sutton is hardly the only UK coach on whose watch NCAA probation came. He simply didn’t have the same layer of teflon as others.
NEWS. The NBA fined Roy Hibbert $75,000 last week for a gay slur.
VIEW. 75 grand seems a steep price to pay, but somebody in the NBA had to be a first sacrificial lamb to the new no-no since Jason Collins reset the bar for political correctness. However, Hibbert’s check won’t be in the mail until the NBA players union has its say.
NEWS. Latest NBA mock draft projects Ben McLemore going first to Cleveland, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel to Orlando second, Louisville’s Gorgui Deng projects No. 22 to Brooklyn; Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan at No. 34 to Houston; UK’s Archie Goodwin No. 40 to Portland; and UofL’s Peyton Siva at 55th to Memphis.
VIEW. Noel is three seasons and 30 pounds away from being more than a shot blocker who can no longer pushed around alot.
VIEW II. Two ‘steals’ in the draft? Canaan and Siva.
• Canaan can shoot, but more, he knows how to score. Unselfish, a leader and clever defender.
• Siva is more than a penetrator and deft passer. He will contribute to locker room harmony and be a fan favorite.
The NBA Draft begins Thursday, June. 27.
NEWS. Winston Bennett was let go as basketball coach at NAIA Mid-Continental University in Mayfield this week. His teams were 73-89, 2007-2013.
VIEW. An enigma is Bennett. Reached the heights – Kentucky Mr. Basketball 1983 to All-SEC at UK, a professional career in NBA and overseas, and coached at NBA and college levels. Yet, he sank to a personal bottom also. I hope Bennett, now 48, finds his niche, a comfort zone and peace, maybe away from basketball.
NEWS. Best basketball towns in America? Internet site Bleacher Report says Durham, North Carolina, Lawrence, Kansas and Chapel Hill are 1-2-3. Here in the Hoops Triangle, Lexington and Bloomington are 4-5, Louisville ranks eighth.
Why Durham is One? BR says, “Teams: A-plus; Duke is in the select group of programs synonymous with college basketball; Fans: A-plus. Cameron Crazies are nation’s most famous spectators. And, competition: A-plus.”
VIEW. Incredibly the foundation for Duke’s supremacy went unmentioned. Mike Krzyzewski is winningest ball coach in the sport.
NEWS. No. 101. Mark Stoops’ Kentucky team is No. 101 for 2013 football season, says USA Today. But the sun is going to shine bright on the bluegrass according to writer Paul Myersberg.
“Mark Stoops has the whole state abuzz due to February’s rock-solid recruiting class, that has carried over into a torrid start in the class of 2014.
His conclusion: Reinforcements are coming. Batten down the hatches. Could Stoops and UK actually, win big?”
VIEW. Stoops landed his tenth commit last Sunday and there is sunny optimism. But there is also that nation’s toughest, 2013 schedule coming up.
WORTH REPEATING DEPT.
A few weeks ago on the way to a game, members of Union County High’s girls softball team were injured in a bus crash.
Kevin Patton writes about people in sports for The Gleaner in Henderson.
While recent news had not been good for the softball team, Patton wrote, “reaction to it was. Livingston Central’s softball team, which was the scheduled opponent the afternoon Union County’s bus ran off the road and turned over on its side, went to Paducah hospitals to show their support for the injured Union County players.
“As a way of saying thank you, Union County’s team traveled to Trigg County to support Livingston Central in the first round of the Fifth District Tournament.
“The outpouring of support for the Union County team reminds us of what is right about high school sports. It’s not about winning and losing. It’s about competition and the relationships developed from that competition.”
Comment: Good to have someone to recognize and chronicle these things also.
And so it goes.
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