E.A. Sports Today

PV gets its man

Chambless hired as new Pleasant Valley basketball coach

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – The Wednesday morning rush was nothing different than any other day for Ryan Chambless.

On top of trying to get in to see somebody about his ailing shoulder, he was checking on the progress of the house he’s building, dropping off some paperwork at the Cleburne County central office and, oh yeah, getting ready for everything that comes with starting a new job.

The Calhoun County Board of Education approved Chambless this morning as the new basketball coach/science teacher at Pleasant Valley High School. He starts in the classroom Thursday, but was expected for football practice Wednesday afternoon.

“I think I’ve almost become accustomed to life being hectic; it’s just another day in my life,” Chambless said. “Lock on with it, do the best every day and deal with each circumstance separately. I almost don’t know what it’d be like to have a normal, easy day.”

The PV job opened when second-year coach Ryan McCoy left right before the start of the school year to pursue other teaching opportunities closer to his family. McCoy is now teaching at Etowah.

The departure left the Raiders with a need for a head basketball coach and a science teacher — and a tight window on the school calendar to find them. Chambless filled all the bills.

“It was not the best timing, but everything worked out,” PV principal Mark Proper said. “We had several good names apply for the job and he just came out on top. We just want to continue moving forward with our basketball team and we think he’s the right guy and the right fit at this time.”

Like McCoy’s, Chambless’ decision was a family one.

“This is an opportunity I really couldn’t pass up,” he said. “I live in that community. My family is in that community. It’s just a big blessing to be able to work at a really good school in a really good community. I’m just really thrilled to have the chance. I really am.”

Before going to Cleburne County, Chambless coached the boys and girls teams at Jacksonville. He coached the Golden Eagles’ girls team to a state title and another Final Four appearance before giving up that program to coach only the boys in 2015-16; he was reassigned at the end of that season and took the job at Heflin a few months later after Doug Ward left for Lincoln.

He coached the boys teams at Ohatchee and St. Clair County before coming to Jacksonville. He took Ohatchee to the Elite Eight in 2007.

His Heflin team went 9-15 last season. Cleburne County officials weren’t immediately certain how they would proceed on their vacancy.

“I felt like we got better all year,” Chambless said of his season with the Tigers. “I think we started out really strong and had an injury that had a little lull in the middle and then I really thought we got better at the end; we started understanding what we were trying to do. I thought the guys bought into it pretty well.

“I’m very appreciative of the people there. This is a family move and I think everybody there understood it. It’s a family move to be a better dad, husband and son to my momma.”

McCoy was brought in to help rebuild the Raiders’ basketball program. He had a good year in his first season and scored the program’s first win in the Calhoun County Tournament in four years, but the team struggled last year under a rash of injuries and didn’t get its first victory until late in the season.

With all the pieces in place, Chambless is confident he can get them back on track. Maybe then he can have an easy day or two.

“I’m going in there and just first of all work hard, just try to start working on instilling that winning mentality in them,” he said. “I think you always try to be very fundamentally sound and outwork everybody around you and get the most out of the guys you’ve got.

“(The style you play) none of that matters as long as you’re doing it at the best of your ability and competing at a great level. Sometimes the formula for winning is a little different depending on what you’ve got. Each group is a little different, but one thing that’s common is mentality and work ethic. I think any time you get your team to buy into what you’re doing and playing to win and working hard any team can be successful.”

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