By Maurice Patton
Catherine Upshaw is going home to begin her coaching career.
The Zion Christian and Maryville College graduate, who attended Culleoka Unit School through her eighth-grade year, is set to succeed Derrick Adkison at the top of the Lady Warriors’ varsity basketball program.
“I’m very excited about it,” said the 24-year-old said this weekend, who joined the faculty at Riverside Elementary following the Christmas break. “I just started my teaching career, and I had been looking for a coaching job in general. It didn’t matter if it was elementary, middle or high school. When the Culleoka position came around, I was like, I think I’d really enjoy that.
“Now that I have the position, I’m thrilled and I cannot wait to start.”
Adkison stepped down in March after his ninth season with Culleoka, leading the team to its fourth straight Region 5-A tournament berth and its sixth appearance during his tenure. His son, Macon, will be a freshman at Santa Fe this year, where he plays basketball and baseball.
Culleoka athletics director Doug Sharp – who coached Upshaw in middle school – recently contacted his former student after a previous prospect to replace Adkison removed his name from consideration.
“She’s always expressed an interest in wanting to coach,” he said. “I saw her last week after she’d been working at Riverside all summer and asked her if she was still interested. Her already being in the (Maury County Public Schools) system as a teacher made the situation work a little faster.
“We needed to get something done.”
Following her 2019 graduation at Maryville College, Upshaw completed her masters degree requirements at Tusculum College in December. After teaching fourth grade at Riverside for the second half of the school year, she will teach kindergarten this year.
Tricia Reischman, who served as an assistant under Adkison, will continue in that role with Upshaw while coaching the middle school team.
“(Reischman) wasn’t interested in moving up, but she does have a couple of girls on this year’s team and agreed to mentor Catherine, sort of like I’ve been doing with (boys basketball coach) Mike Lovett,” Sharp said.
“What I really like about Catherine is her demeanor. I think she’ll be a good coach in the future because she doesn’t get too high, she doesn’t get too low. She just keeps that happy medium.”
With her playing career still fresh, Upshaw expects that to be in her favor as she embarks on her coaching career.
“I’ve been playing all my life. I know that aspect of the game,” she said. “Being 24 years old, I can get out there and show them what I want, not just by verbally saying it. I can coach them, I can play with them. I think that’s pretty important.”
Maryville, an NCAA Division III program, posted winning seasons in three of Upshaw’s four years – including a 26-4 campaign her freshman year and a berth in the national tournament.
“We were very successful, and the coaching there was phenomenal,” she said. “We had great coaches that knew how to talk to players, how to communicate.
“Playing with people you love and care for is pretty important. That’s a huge factor I will help these girls develop with one another.”