The Lady Pioneers only won seven games over those seasons, but Conley believed the program took a huge step forward. David Crockett won a pair of Big Seven Conference games for the first time since 2009, and closed the margin of their losses significantly from the previous season.
“I wanted to get these girls where they felt they could play with anybody, could compete with anybody,” Conley said. “I believe we accomplished that. I gave my all to the basketball team and the program.”
David Crockett athletic director Josh Kite said no one should ever question Conley’s commitment or passion for the Jonesborough school.
“We appreciate everything that Will has done,” Kite said. “He definitely has a love for Crockett basketball. His commitment for that community and school should never be questioned. Just after a long discussion with Will, we felt it was in everyone’s best interests to go in a different direction.”
Conley, a 1994 David Crockett graduate, called coaching at his alma mater his dream job. However, the familiar surroundings helped lead to the change.
“It’s a tough to coach in an area where everyone knows you by Will and calls you Will,” Kite said. “He was always very professional about the program. I think he will fare better at a place, in an environment where he can just be Coach Conley.”
As for a replacement, Kite said the job will be posted through the Washington County Board of Education and listed on the TSSAA website. There are some potentially strong candidates in-house including assistant coach Marty Story, a former ETSU star, and boys’ assistant Tony Gordon, a former boys coach at University High and Elizabethton. Kite said time was a definite factor in hiring a new coach.
“Scheduling should be almost done and we have summer camps coming up,” Kite said. “We are going to work extremely hard to have someone in there sooner instead of later.”
Both Conley and Kite agreed the next coach should have some talent to work with. The Lady Pioneers only graduate three players and there is a strong middle school group coming up.
If everyone returns from this past season’s team, there should be six seniors on the roster. They have both experience in the backcourt and size inside. They’ve also experienced some success.
“This group of girls have won at the JV level and they will win at the varsity level,” Conley said. “I appreciated the opportunity to coach them. I gave my all to it and whoever is named coach will take over a good program in pretty good shape.”
Conley, who has worked as an assistant under Charlie Morgan with the Dobyns-Bennett boys’ program and under Larry Weems and Len Dugger, would like to remain in the sport with either another head coaching opportunity or as an assistant.
“I love teaching and I love coaching,” Conley said. “I just want to see what is out there and continue on. Whether it is boys or girls, I don’t see gender, I see basketball being basketball. The ball might be a little bigger or smaller, but it’s still the same game. I love the game and where ever I go from here on, I will give it my all.”
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