Coach Kechia Eller will be Lady Longhorns new head coach at JCHS. Photo submitted
By Beth Cox
When news broke that Coach Leon Tolley had resigned as head coach of the Lady Longhorns basketball team, many wondered who could fill the legendary coach’s shoes. The answer was as easy as looking to the right of the bleachers to find Assistant Coach Kechia Eller. Eller went from playing basketball on Johnson County’s youth basketball program to a coveted spot on the JCHS basketball team. The talented coach finds it ironic that she will now be competing against Tolley.
“It’s funny looking back on my career now. I remember playing against Coach Tolley, and now we are part of the same coaching circle.”
Eller has also established herself as a successful basketball coach for Johnson County. She began her coaching career shortly after graduating college. The young coach had no plans to coach, but that quickly changed when she was hired to teach for Johnson County High School.
“Johnson County allowed me to teach back in my hometown, and they offered me the middle school coaching position, which I was excited about,” Eller said. She followed up: “My first group of seventh graders was the one that Tolley took to regionals.”
She knew that the group of seventh graders was a special one made up of talented athletes.
“You could see it in their eyes like, ‘hey, we can do this,” Eller said. “That year, we placed third in districts, and the following year we were runner up in districts.”
Eller would coach the same girls after getting the opportunity to be the assistant coach of the girls’ high school basketball team. Naturally, Eller will bring her own brand of coaching to the Lady Longhorns, but she will be forever grateful for the mentoring from both Tolley and Assistant Coach Garry Smith.
“Coach Tolley is one of the best game coaches I’ve seen.”
The new head coach concluded, “I hope to continue to build on the skills I’ve learned from these two, as well as add my ideas and strengths to push the girls.”