By Beth Cox
JCHS girls’ basketball coach Leon Tolley was inducted into the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday at TCAT in Elizabethton. Tolley was recognized for his outstanding basketball career as both player and coach.
In 1983, Tolley led the Hampton Bulldogs all the way to state playoff finals. The team faced off with East Robertson in the finals and lost 73-67, but Tolley still won the Most Valuable Player award in class A division.
The MVP award is usually an honor that is given to an individual from the winning team; however, due to his talent and work ethic, the honor was given to Tolley.
The basketball honoree later returned to Hampton High School as the girls’ basketball coach where he took his team to state playoffs on more than one occasion.
When asked about the Hall of Fame, honor Tolley humbly gave credit to others. “As a player, I was fortunate to have good teammates and good coaches, and as a coach, I was surrounded by good players and assistant coaches.
“It’s special because it means you’ve done something well over a long period of time,” he said, ending by acknowledging the importance of family for both his playing and coaching career.
The newest inductee was presented the award by his longtime colleague and friend, J.R. Campbell.
As a the JCHS girls’ basketball coach, Tolley encourages a hard work ethic in his young team.
The coach emphasized, “one of the most important assets a player has to have is the will to work hard, get better, and improve.”
Tolley said that distractions and the inability of players to be self-motivated are the struggles coaches today are faced with when working with their teams, stating, “ after practice, players won’t get back in the gym until the next practice, or kids are playing multiple sports making it difficult to focus on one sport long enough to reach their maximum potential.”
As the new school year begins, Tolley is ready to get back in the gym and start working with his team. He has high expectations for the girls and knows if they are dedicated and work hard, it will be a successful season.