Taylor Clark stepped into a room to interview for Maryville High School’s vacant girls basketball coaching position and was greeted by a 12-person search committee.
The realization of that many eyes fixed on a single target, listening intently to every word, could have been overwhelming, but the calm Clark felt as the interview progressed was the assurance that this could one day be home.
“It should have been intimidating and nerve-racking, but by the end of the conversation I felt so comfortable talking to all of them; Not even answering interview questions but just talking to them about the school and all the things that were going on in the community there, ”Clark told The Daily Times. “It seemed like a very comfortable place to build a program that my family would be involved in forever. I was just really excited about it when I left. “
Maryville’s search committee must have had similar feelings once completing its round of questioning because the school announced Clark as its new girls basketball coach Tuesday.
Clark replaces former Lady Rebels coach Scott West, who resigned on March 21 after 11 seasons at the helm.
West was the all-time winningest coach in program history, amassing a record of 244-102 that included two district championships (2017, 2019), two region championships (2012, 2020), five sectional appearances (2012, 2014, 2019, 2020). , 2021) and back-to-back Class AAA state tournament appearances in 2020 and 2021.
The Lady Rebels struggled this past winter, going 10-21 and failing to reach the district semifinals for the first time since the 2015-16 season, leaving Clark to get Maryville back to the success it came to expect under West.
“I think it’s a lot easier with the girls that we have coming back and the high expectations that we have to tone down the flame than it is to raise the dead,” Clark said. “Obviously, there is a little bit of pressure there, but I’m more excited for the expectations that not only the community has but the girls have for the program and themselves.”
Clark comes to Maryville from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, where she spent last season as an assistant coach. She was originally slated to serve as a graduate assistant but was promoted after one of the main assistants left to become a high school coach in Kentucky prior to the start of the season.
“It was definitely not what I expected,” Clark said. “One reason I chose to GA at Trevecca was the staff was not as extensive, so I would get the opportunity to a lot more responsibility on me, and that’s exactly what I got.
“Being able to take on those responsibilities and learning purely through experience by having to figure it out on my own just gave me confidence in my calling as a coach. The passion I had for it just kind of caught flame. “
The passion for coaching comes from her father, Shaen, who coached the Lawrence County boys basketball team for 20 seasons, but also from her own basketball career.
Clark was a four-year standout for the Lady Wildcats, scoring more than 1,000 points and corralling more than 400 rebounds. She signed with Lipscomb out of high school and went on to lead the Bison in scoring the final three years of her career. Clark, who graduated with a bachelor of science in biology, was named to the Atlantic Sun All-Conference second team in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
That success should provide inspiration to current and future Lady Rebels, but Clark wants to make sure every one of her players understands what it takes to play at that level.
“One thing I’m going to pride myself on and try to always keep at the forefront of how I check myself is that I’m just honest and open with the girls about them and their possibilities, the role they have on the team and what their options are looking like, ”Clark said. “I do think it helps that I had success at that level and that I also got to watch my dad coach and have the success that he had throughout his career.”
Clark said that her program will prioritize defense and connectivity on that end of the floor from all five players while also stating they will be asked to make a lot of reads and be given the freedom to play to their strengths on the offensive end.
More important than on-the-court philosophies is a culture that centers around the acronym CADET (communication, attitude, development, enthusiasm and trust), and the hope is the combination of those five pillars can create something special inside James C. Campbell Gymnasium. .
“I would like us to win a lot of games,” Clark said, “but mostly I want it to be a program that people in the community and people at other athletic programs at Maryville High School want to be a part of.”