By Maurice Patton and Chris Yow
Mt. Pleasant administration confirmed Tuesday that Kansas native Hayden Pentecost will take over the Lady Tigers basketball program for the upcoming campaign, following the April dismissal of Amy Odom after two seasons.
Pentecost spent the previous two years as an assistant under veteran Summit girls basketball coach John Wild — a factor that weighed heavily into his hiring.
“We’re excited to have him,” Mt. Pleasant principal Ryan Jackson said. “He’s from the John Wild camp; he speaks highly of him.
“He’s fired up, excited. This is the perfect opportunity for him, and he’s diving in head-first. He’s excited about the film he’s seen, the team he has, and we’re excited to have him with us.”
The 24-year-old Pentecost — his birthday is July 27 — moved to Tennessee with his then-fiancee in 2018 after graduating from Wichita State. The Lady Spartans marked his first coaching assignment.
As did Jackson, Pentecost recognized the career jumpstart that working with Wild provides.
“Working with someone that’s done it for 30-plus years, you learn a lot,” he said. “I think the biggest thing for me was that he knew from Day One that I had aspirations to be a head coach. He showed me the ropes of everything outside the Xs and Os — what happens outside the court. That’s something I’m very grateful for.
“He’s been very helpful from the get-go. I’m sure he’ll still be available if I need help.”
With the boys and girls basketball programs both moving to Class AA for the upcoming classification period, Pentecost and his young charges will be heavily tested. Mt. Pleasant will be in District 10-AA along with Giles County, Lewis County, Loretto and Summertown — the latter two of which played for the Class A state title in March.
Loretto, making its third consecutive state tourney appearance, won the crown over a Lady Eagle team that was in the tournament for the third time in five years.
Mt. Pleasant won six games over the past two seasons under Odom.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “You’ve got to go out and give it your best shot. We’ll focus on us, work our butts off and compete, and hopefully good things will come from that — playing with confidence, trusting in your ability, staying within yourself, believing in what we’ve got in our locker room and just competing. That’s the goal.
“I haven’t met the girls yet. I’m looking forward to that. There’s a good young group that I understand is eager to get to work and get pushed and they want to have success. That’s something I’m excited about.”
“That’s why I think it was imperative to find somebody fearless (and) willing to take on that challenge,” Jackson said. “This is a solid group; they’re committed, fired up, ready to compete.
“We know it’s going to be tough; that’s nothing new. But the mindset is the same. We’re going to push forward, make no excuses and be as competitive as we can.”
Columbia Central girls basketball
After Joshua Bugg was relieved of his duties at the helm of the program, the school was forced to put its search on hold for a replacement following an administration shake-up. The Lady Lions have been without a coach since March 5. New principal Kevin Eady said the school reopened the posting and are selecting candidates for interviews beginning June 21 — a week before the TSSAA-mandated dead period (June 28-July 11).
Culleoka girls basketball
Derrick Adkison stepped down from his position after nine seasons at Culleoka on March 14. The Warriors’ former coach cited his desire to watch his son, who plays basketball for Santa Fe, as the biggest reason for the move. Culleoka athletics director Doug Sharp said interviews for the vacancy have been completed and an offer has been extended, with hopes of finalization before the dead period.
Columbia Central softball
Just before the 2021 season, coach Shelby Burchell Tietgens resigned abruptly in January, citing ‘philosophical differences’; assistant Hannah Thomason Cole was appointed to the position on an interim basis. Eady said the school reopened the posting and are selecting candidates for interviews beginning June 21.
Mt. Pleasant boys basketball
Chris Carney, who spent two seasons at the helm of Mt. Pleasant’s boys basketball team, was relieved of his duties on April 1. Carney has since accepted the girls basketball coaching job at his alma mater Camden. Mt. Pleasant has yet to narrow down its list of candidates to extend an offer, but principal Ryan Jackson said the interview process is ongoing.
Filled this year
Mt. Pleasant football — Kit Hartsfield
Hartsfield, who went 22-13 with three Class 6A state playoff appearances over the past three seasons at Blackman, succeeds Bronson Bradley at the Tigers’ helm. The younger brother of longtime Midstate girls basketball coach Wendi Hartsfield Scott (Lawrence County, Riverdale, Blackman), Kit began his coaching career immediately out of college, taking the helm at Oakland Middle School and spending three years as defensive backs coach under Thomas McDaniel at Oakland High School.
Summertown football — Dakota Crews
Crews, 30, joined former Summertown coach Leslie Mote’s staff after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant at Oakland. The only Mr. Football in the history of the Lewis County program, Crews worked under Bobby Sharp for six seasons at his alma mater after completing his collegiate playing career at Maryville College.
Zion Christian football — Jeff Jordan
Following the March resignation of Brad Lowery, Zion Christian hired Jordan, a first-year coach, to take over the program. The 36-year-old Jordan is an area native, graduating in 2003 from Page before attending Purdue University. Embarking on his coaching career with two years at the middle school level at Franklin Road Academy, he spent a year at his high school alma mater before moving on to Ravenwood for three seasons. Last year, he served as defensive backs coach at Ensworth.
Lawrence County boys basketball — Joseph Wilson
Lawrence County hired Wilson, who spent the last 16 seasons as girls basketball coach at Winfield (Ala.), to succeed Shaen Clark. Wilson holds an overall record of 556-227 in Alabama with two final four appearances, three elite eight appearances and 13 regional championships — the equivalent to sectionals in Tennessee. He has 23 playoff appearances.
Independence boys basketball — Mark Wilkins
Jeff Parker initially served in an interim role atop the Eagles’ program after Doug Keil’s abrupt departure in February, before Independence hired Mark Wilkins, who played for his father, Mitch, at Henry County before graduating from Lipscomb University in 2012. Wilkins spent three seasons as an assistant at Beech — under current Williamson County Schools athletics director Darren Joines — prior to taking the position at South Gibson. In six seasons at the Medina, Tenn., school, he posted a 112-68 record, leading the Hornets to District 13-AA championships each of the last two years.
Independence girls basketball — Tony Hill
Former Centennial coach Tony Hill was hired in April to take over the program, which has been marred by inconsistency in the head coaching seat in recent years. Hill was most recently a member of the girls basketball coaching staff at Riverdale, and led Centennial to a four-year record of 55-48 from 2013-17, with the Lady Cougars posting their first winning record (18-8) in 2015-16 followed by a 19-win performance a year later. Two months later, Hill resigned to take over the girls program at Portland. He’s since spent a season at Huntland and the last two at Riverdale. Hill succeeds Mary Beth White, the Independence athletics director, who stepped in following Bryan Glasner’s suspension and subsequent resignation.
Summertown girls basketball — Jeremy Jean
Jeremy Jean was hired to succeed Catie Embrey at Summertown in May following Embrey’s resignation. 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. Jean’s wife, Beth, played at Summertown and made successive state tourney visits in 2004, ’05 and ’06.