By Tim Chambers
Johnson County was in need of a middle school basketball coach for its girls’ program, and they didn’t have to look very far to find one. Sarah Swift has accepted the job at her Alma Mater and will be teaching PE at Johnson County Middle School for the upcoming school year. Swift is a graduate of Johnson County High School and Emory & Henry University. She recently completed her master’s degree and is excited about the opportunity that she’s been given.
“I just found out a few weeks ago that I got the job and I’m super excited about the coaching part,” said Swift. “I’m hoping they can find me an assistant coach quick because we have 19 girls currently in our program.”
Swift graduated from Johnson County High School in 2013 where she was an All-Conference performer in volleyball and basketball. She went on to play volleyball at E&H but likes the new role she’s been placed in.
“I feel a whole lot more comfortable around volleyball because I always loved playing it, but I always had a passion for basketball too. I think the high school program is really going to be something in a couple of years and I’m happy for the girls and their coaches. I’m hoping we can be a part of that by producing a good feeder program for coach Tolley and his staff. We want our kids to be ready to step in when they get there.”
The team was set to begin workouts on Tuesday with some select drills that Swift has drawn up for them. She hopes to get with Tolley and his staff very quickly.
“I want to attend some of Coach Tolley’s practices and get to know him and Coach Smith. I already know Coach Eller, so that’s a plus. I want to watch his kids and get to know their style of play and get a good feel for what he does and implement it into our practices. I believe it will be a much easier transition for our kids when they move on to high school if we’re doing some of the same stuff.”
Swift played three seasons under Todd Whittemore who coached at the high school for five seasons before his departure. She played on teams that we’re very competitive during his tenure.
“He taught us a lot about basketball, but he also taught us some valuable life lessons. He always stayed in touch with me and encouraged me to go on and graduate. I feel like he played a huge role in me wanting to coach. I would like to have an impact on my players like that.”
Swift liked what she saw after meeting with the team.
“I told them that this is going to be a learning experience for everyone. I’m happy to be working with this age group because it can be tough at times and it can be rewarding too. The girls that I met with seem to have great attitudes and want to play. It’s going to be a good fit.”
Swift said her expectations will be simple to start out with.
“I want them to play hard and be a team player. I want players who will do what’s best for our team to make it better. It all starts with a good attitude and good effort at practices and during games. Talent and skills are great, but they won’t do you any good if the kids are not willing to work hard to get better.”
Chris Dunbar, who coached the girl’s seventh-grade team last year, will move over to the boys’ side to take on that same role.