By Maurice Patton
At one of Chris Carney’s previous coaching stops, a seed was planted.
That seed blossomed Friday, as Carney – dismissed on April 1 as boys basketball coach at Mt. Pleasant – accepted the girls basketball coaching position at his alma mater, Camden Central.
“I’d been thinking about it, contemplating it for a few years,” Carney said about the crossover. “I had the privilege of coaching with John Wild at Wilson Central. He’d gone from boys to girls. He made some good points about the differences.
“He made me think my style of coaching would work well with the girls.”
And when Wild – current girls coach at Summit, and one of just three coaches to win Tennessee boys and girls basketball state championships – says it, it’s worth considering.
“I just think his attention to detail,” Wild said in explaining his assessment. “I think he’s consumed with all the little things, the fundamentals, the importance of developing a ‘more than basketball’ relationship that goes beyond the court, the intangibles that I think you’ve got to have when it comes to coaching girls.
“Guys are like, let’s practice a little and go play. With girls, there’s that emotional piece there. I think girls will build a lot of trust in him.”
In two years at Mt. Pleasant, Carney posted a 30-27 record, taking the Tigers to the Region 5-A semifinals in his first season before finishing 9-17 in a pandemic-impacted 2020-21 campaign.
Before arriving at the Maury County school, Carney had spent three years at Wilson Central and four at Portland, compiling a 67-130 mark.
The 2005 Camden graduate went on to play collegiately at Maryville College and spent two seasons as an assistant at Kenwood before embarking on his head coaching career.
“I still have a lot of people, a few of my best friends, raising their kids in the community,” he said. “When the position came open, it was definitely something that interested me.
“I met the girls Friday, and one of the girls that’s going to be a sophomore said ‘my uncle played with you’, which was pretty wild. I’ve been gone through college and different stops coaching. I’d still kept up with the community, but as far as staying connected with everybody, there’s some people I haven’t talked to in 10 or 15 years.”
Carney replaces Renee Sutton – “she started when I was a player,” he said – and was hired by Camden principal Shawn McDowell, who was the school’s baseball coach during Carney’s days as a student.
“Your administration is everything,” he said. “To be going home to people that were my teachers, some of my coaches, that loyalty is something that’s nice to have.”
Mt. Pleasant has yet to announce a successor to Carney or to girls basketball coach Amy Odom, who was also dismissed after two seasons. Columbia Central and Culleoka also have ongoing girls basketball coaching searches.
Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports