E.A. Sports Today

Watts named White Plains girls coach

[corner-ad id=2]Coaching carousel spins: Saks seeking softball coach, Wellborn names basketball coach

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Joi Watts was presented the chance to pursue her first love and jumped at it.

The White Plains volleyball coach added another head coaching assignment to her resume after being named the Wildcats’ new girls basketball coach.

She replaces Michael Merriman, whose coaching contract was not renewed after the Wildcats went 14-14 and failed to return to the playoffs one year after making it to the Northeast Regional.

“It’s kind of a dream come true, the basketball thing,” Watts said Friday. “I think what’s fantastic about it is most of the girls who play basketball I coached in volleyball the last two years, so I think it’ll be an easy transition for them.

“The feedback I’m getting from the girls is they’re excited. I’m really excited. Basketball is my first love so it’s definitely a dream come true. It was presented to me, I was asked if I wanted to do it and I said absolutely.”

The coaching carousel in Calhoun County has been spinning swiftly since the end of the school year.

Saks is in the market for a softball coach after Michelle Lively was relieved of those duties. And Jordan Angle will return to the bench as boys basketball coach at Wellborn.

White Plains principal and athletics director Andy Ward said last season’s shortcoming “wasn’t the reason necessarily” the Wildcats made the change, but he declined to elaborate. The team loses only one senior.

“I do appreciate everything (Merriman) did for the program,” Ward said. “For various reasons we made the decision to go in a different direction.”

Watts played basketball in high school, kept in touch with it throughout college and served as an assistant to Oxford girls coach Tonya Peoples for a year before taking the White Plains volleyball job.

She actually started the basketball job Thursday, putting together a roster and preparing to take the junior high team and the varsity team to camps at Lee University in Tennessee over the next three weeks.

“She’s going to do a good job with the girls,” Ward said. “She’s already familiar with the girls and those who play volleyball play basketball as well.”

After this change, the Wildcats don’t anticipate any more head coaching changes. However, boys basketball coach Chris Randall and football coach Chris White have resigned their positions as softball assistant coaches.

One of the vacancies are expected to be filled by head coach Rachel Ford’s husband Matt, a special education teacher coming over from Weaver.

Saks principal Jody Whaley confirmed without elaboration Friday he was looking for a softball coach. Lively said she was relieved after declining a request to step aside. She will remain the Saks girls’ basketball coach, but has said “my dream has always been” coaching both sports.

“We’re going to support her 100 percent in basketball and try to zero in on that and do the very best she can with it,” Whaley said.

He said he hoped to name a new coach late next week.

Angle replaces Beau Winn who replaced him in 2013 and previously transferred to Ohatchee. Angle has been on staff since leaving the basketball post and is defensive coordinator on the Panthers’ football staff.

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