West Middle School will welcome a new girls basketball coach to its sideline this coming season, as Christian Haile was hired as the new Lady Bobcats head coach on Tuesday.
“I’m pretty much beyond words, because it’s a great position to take,” Haile said. “It was a position that you can’t pass up. Working with this group of girls is going to be fun and it’s going to be a good opportunity to impact their lives, and have them impact my life, while also teaching them basketball.”
Haile is a 2012 graduate of Shelbyville and returns to Southern Middle Tennessee after a wealth of basketball experience. After graduating as a Golden Eagle, Haile played college ball for two seasons before deciding to play internationally, traveling to Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic and Spain.
While also playing professionally, Haile made time to start to his coaching career. In Jacksonville, Florida, he helped with Champions Basketball, coaching high school level players. Additionally, he coached AAU teams, which is where he caught the attention of now Tullahoma Girls Head Coach Cody McMurtry.
During the interview process, THS Athletic Director John Olive said Haile jumped out as an ideal candidate for the Lady Bobcats coaching position. Last season, the West girls basketball team made it to the TMSAA AA State Championship Game, finishing as runner-up. Olive said he thinks that he can build on that success.
“He has a love of basketball and he’s a very impressive young man,” Olive said. “In the interview, you could tell that he knows how to coach basketball. But, he also understands about how to work with young people and how to get through with them.
“When I watched his basketball practice yesterday [Tuesday] working on fundamentals, his background showed, as he’s been a basketball trainer for four years.”
After officially being hired on Tuesday, Haile officially got to meet his team during practice on Tuesday. During that inaugural practice under Haile, he said practice was limited to just a few players, as he just wanted to get a look at his team.
“I got to introduce myself and I got to see the talent that we have,” Haile said. “We have a lot of potential. It’s going to be exciting to see the growth throughout the year. I know that they can only get better. I feel like with the things that I’m bringing to the table, that they are just going to keep getting better.”
The West girls basketball team was scheduled to take part in its first play day, hosting multiple games on Thursday. As of press time, the results of those game were unavailable. However, Haile said he just wanted to see how his team competes against live opponents.
“I told them [on Tuesday] what I can work with is a good attitude. So, if they bring the energy and attitude, we can definitely get better. Since it’s just short notice, I just want them to go out there and compete. From there, after Thursday, we can start building toward our new year.”
Johnson takes over as Panthers coach
Toward the end of the season, Anthony Johnson had to take over as head coach of the East Boys basketball team, after Matt Lawson was forced to miss games due to illness.
On Tuesday, Olive noted that Johnson (AJ) would officially be taking over the helm of the Panthers program.
“AJ did a tremendous job last year. Both [Assistant Principal at East and West] Travis Moore and East Lincoln Principal Charles Lawson recommended that we offer AJ the coaching position … It was just a natural fit.”