By Maurice Patton
Jeremy Jean didn’t have to be brought up to speed on the Summertown girls basketball program that he is – as of Thursday – coaching.
Reminded of the Lady Eagles’ current run of four consecutive state tournament appearances, including championship game berths in 2018 and two months ago, he clarified that the program’s history of success predates the past five years.
“It goes back further than that, as far as the early 2000s,” said Jean, who led Forrest to seven 20-win seasons before ending his 12-year tenure with his resignation a year ago.
Jean’s wife, Beth, played at Summertown and made successive state tourney visits in 2004, ’05 and ’06.
“They’re at state all the time. That’s what makes this job exciting,” he said. “They expect that. I want to keep building on those expectations.”
Jean succeeds Catie Embrey, who won 79 games in three seasons on the Lady Eagles’ bench – including this year’s 26-8 finish — before accepting a similar role less than two weeks ago at South Gibson in West Tennessee.
“We’ve lived in Summertown three years,” Jean said. “That drive, with a 5- and a 3-year old at the time, I wasn’t seeing my kids. I decided to take a step back, just teach up there and see what the good Lord brought my way. We got lucky. This fell in my lap. I’m blessed, happy, excited. I’m ready to get going.”
After serving as an assistant at Lincoln County and at Franklin County – serving under current Summit coach John Wild in the latter stop – as well as at Motlow State, Jean went 254-125 with the Lady Rockets with four regular-season district championships, two district tourney titles, three region tournament crowns and one state quarterfinal appearance.
“His teams always typify toughness and they always typify role identity,” said Wild, a Chapel Hill resident who coached Jean on the 1999 Moore County Class A state championship team. “I’ve seen him with size, where they got it inside, and I’ve seen him with not much size at all, do things with his guards to speed you up.
“He does a better job adjusting to his personnel probably than anybody I’ve seen over the last 8-10 years. And I think the kids have all enjoyed playing for him. That’s special to be able to hang your hat on.”
Despite his success and availability, Jean was aggressive in his pursuit of the Lady Eagles’ vacancy.
“I sent my résumé to (Summertown principal) Lain Hinson when I saw Coach Embrey had resigned, to let him know I was interested, and I sent my application the next day,” he said. “I didn’t wait for them. I reached out to let them know I was interested.
“I missed coaching. I feel energized, ready to get back in it. I don’t need to come in fix what’s not broken. I just want to put my twist on things – get out there and play hard, give it your all.”
Hinson was unavailable for comment.