Tuesday, August 21, 2012
- by B.B. Branton
Catherine Neely coached her first high school volleyball matcn for East Ridge in the fall of 1964 and 48 years later she is stil wearing the Orange and White for the Pioneers and carrying the coaches clip board.
The nearly 50-year career is dotted with accolades, six Hall of Fame inductions, two state championships (1997, 2005), 17 region titles and nearly 1,400 wins. In basketball, Neely led East Ridge to a 625-364 record in 43 years.
Although East Ridge lost its season opener Monday at Signal Mountain (3-0, 25-11, 25-18, 25-10), "we will be alright and will get better as the season goes on," said Neely who is a member of six halls of fame and was chosen national volleyball coach of the year (2006). "We have kids playing some positions for the first time, but they are learning."
Signal Mountain (1-0) was led by Taelor Kellum (10 digs, 1 block), Shelby O'Quinn (13 digs, 2 service aces), Laura Holland (7 kills, 1 block), Paige Scudder (16 assists and 2 service aces) and Carolyn Thielges (7 assists, 2 service aces).
East Ridge was led by Leashia Taylor (13 digs, 4 kills), Justice Halfacre (11 assists, 7 digs), Alexis Moore (13 digs, 6 assists, 2 kills), Michelle Hughes (5 kils, 4 digs, 2 blocks, 2 assists) and Hannah Eldridge (15 digs, 5 kills, 2 blocks).
From her days as an athlete at Hixson High School at the University of Chattanooga to coaching in the new millennium Neely's career connects the old with the new ... memograph machines, manual typewriters, rotary phones and plays designed on black boards to white boards, computers, Ipads and cell phones.
"I am not all that great with all the new technology, but I do use them," Neely said with a smile.
Her ability to adjust with the times and to new concepts and being able to relate to players through two generations is evidenced by her success on the court.
Monday was her 2,000th volleyball match and her career record now shows 1,371 wins (third all- time nationally) and 629 losses.
Mothers and Daughters: Two generations of players have gone through Neely's volleyball program ...
Diana Brock (current assistant coach) ... and daughters, Katie, Rachel, Laura, Meredith
Rhonda Benton Haskew ... and daughters, Christina, Meredith, Jennifer, Kim
Robin Benton Smith ... and daughter, Rachel
Sharon Williams Speizer and daughter, Holly (both were setters)
Karen Williams Sherman and daughter, Ashley (both were setters)
Chris Williams - brother of Sharon and Karen - his daughter, Whitney, played for Neely.
Darlene Clark Scott ... and daughter, Alicia
Linda Davis White ... and daughter, Lisa White
Halls of Fame For Neely (6): TSSAA (1993), Greater Chattanooga (1996), National High School Coaches Association (1996), State of Tennessee Sports (2000) Hixson High School (2004) and National High School Federation (2012).
One More Hall of Fame: Missing from Neely's resume is induction into her college alma mater's hall of fame - Tennessee at Chattanooga ... she earned eight varsity letters in two sports from 1961 to1964; volleyball (4) and basketball (4) and was a member of the school's first teams in these two sports ... surely she will be elected this year.
contact B.B. Branton at firstname.lastname@example.org