By Maurice Patton
Leading Columbia Central to its first Region 4-AAA girls basketball tournament appearance in six seasons would have seemed to be a good sign for fourth-year Lady Lions coach Joshua Bugg.
But four days after falling at top-seed Blackman, Bugg was informed Friday by school administration that he had been “relieved of my duties”.
Columbia Central principal Roger White did not respond to requests for comment.
“The only thing I know is that he was relieved because of professionalism,” Central co-athletics director Ray Wilson said. “That’s all I know.”
Central capped an 18-12 campaign with the Monday loss, marking the program’s first winning season since 2013-14, as coaching instability had marred the three years prior to Bugg’s arrival in May 2017.
The Lady Lions struggled initially under the former Riverdale and Independence assistant, winning just 15 total games in his first three seasons.
This past year, however, Central battled through injuries and a pandemic, putting together two winning streaks of five games or more while being relatively competitive with most of the teams on its schedule – particularly in District 8-AAA, where the Lady Lions were 5-5 against teams other than Associated Press third-ranked Coffee County.
And with everyone set to return except senior Jenice Bailey, optimism surrounded the program as it heads into District 12-4A with Independence, Nolensville, Ravenwood and Summit.
“We’re really excited about what we’re bringing back. One of our biggest goals is to keep working hard during the offseason,” said Josie Parks, who as one of four juniors led the team in scoring this season. “We’ll have four seniors, a great group to lead this team and continue working.
“Obviously (Bugg) devoted so much time to the program, he’s one of the reasons I came (from Santa Fe). It’s shocking. Having a coach that puts that much trust in you as a player, as a leader, (having) the ability to go out there and play has been awesome. It’s going to take me a while to adjust to a new coach, whoever that may be. My job as a leader is to respect the decision that’s been made and help our team move forward and have a great year.”
Despite the sudden turn of events, Bugg was gracious in his departure.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity here, and I’m excited to see what’s next,” he said. “I wish the girls a lot of success, in the upcoming season and down the road.”