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Gouge tabbed as Happy Valley girls coach

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 12, 2018 at 2:47 PM

Thomas Gouge was introduced as the new girls' basketball coach at Happy Valley High School on Thursday.

This past season, Gouge served as an assistant on the Daniel Boone team which swept Big Seven Conference, District 1-AAA and Region 1-AAA titles and made it to the Class AAA state tournament.

It wasn't his first time at the state tournament, making it as a player on the 1999 Daniel Boone boys' team. His former head coach, Bobby Snyder, was in attendance at Happy Valley for the ceremony to introduce Gouge.

Gouge, 36, takes over for Larry Abel Jr., who resigned last month after six seasons. The Lady Warriors are coming off a disappointing 5-24 season, but had three straight 20-win seasons prior to that.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me," Gouge said. "It's something I've desired for many years now. I'm very blessed and give all credit to God for opening the door. I just can't wait to get started."

Prior to Boone, Gouge coached the boys' program at Sulphur Springs Middle School. He quickly turned around a program which had won single-digit games and by year three, they were conference champs and finished state runner-up.

As a high school player, Gouge scored over 1,000 career points and was named second-team All-State his senior season. Playing at the next level, he scored over 1,000 points at Cleveland State, became the school's all-time 3-point goal leader and was named honorable mention All-American.

A couple from other schools had contacted Gouge about their coaching vacancies, but he ultimately felt Happy Valley was a better match.

"I chose Happy Valley because the people I met were very friendly and welcoming," Gouge said. "I felt wanted here. It's a big key to know you're wanted by the administration and the people, who are with you every day. I'm really excited about this opportunity and am ready to get to work."

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