Veteran basketball coach Jesse Nayadley has been elevated to assistant principal and athletic director positions at Ooltewah High School, new principal Jim Jarvis confirmed Tuesday night.
Nayadley has been the Owls’ boys basketball coach for the past 11 years after holding the same position at Notre Dame the previous seven. The 40-year-old Nayadley – he turns 41 in November – was a 21-year-old graduate of Tennessee Tech University in March and became the Irish’s head coach the following September.
Nayadley will continue as the boys coach this coming season. He faces a decision in the coming months of whether to continue in administration or return to coaching.
“I formally accepted the offer on Monday and Tuesday was my first full day on the job,” Nayadley said prior to Ooltewah’s “Pink Out” volleyball match against Walker County. “I’ll coach the basketball team this year, but it could be my last year. If I stick with administration next year, I can’t coach.”
Jarvis, who has been in the Hamilton County school system since 1984, has a career path in mind for Nayadley.
“Jesse is in an interim position right now because we have to do it that way since the school year is already under way,” Jarvis said. “But I will tell you that I’m looking at coach Nayadley as filling these roles on a long-term basis.
“He’s done an outstanding job with our boys basketball program and he’s a good administrator, a hard worker and he makes great decisions. We’re very fortunate to have him with us.”
Jarvis said when he recently approached Nayadley about jumping into a administration, the coach had one stipulation – he wanted to coach this basketball season.
“He told me it wouldn’t be fair to the boys to leave them this close to the season,” Jarvis said, “and that speaks volumes about Jesse Nayadley. The downtown administration understands his situation. It’s going to be a lot of hours for Jesse, but we’re going to be here to help him. He’s going to do a great job.”
Jarvis, who held the same positions for 13 years that Nayadley is now assuming, was promoted to the principal’s position on Sept. 24 in the wake of long-time principal Mark Beans’ suspension without pay a week earlier. Assistant principal Beverly Hollingsworth was also suspended without pay pending an investigation into the pair’s conduct issues.
Bean later turned in his resignation.
Jarvis was the athletic director at East Ridge High for 11 years prior to coming to Ooltewah.
Nayadley went through a “dry run” in his new roles last week but his acceptance of Jarvis’ offer was finalized on Monday.
“I think this is being designed for me to keep doing it,” Nayadley admitted. “If things go well, it’s my understanding that they want the administration, including me, to move forward.
“I wanted to eventually get into administration, but I thought it would be a few years down the road. When the opportunity arises, you’ve got to make a decision. The opportunity might not come around again. It’s going to be real busy, but what makes it all possible is that I have great people around me. You can’t work for a better man than Jim Jarvis.”
Nayadley has 394 wins and he’s 118-55 at Ooltewah.
A year after taking directorship of the Owls’ program, Nayadley directed Ooltewah to a District 6-AA tournament championship. In 2009-10, the Owls finished second in the district and region tournaments and earned a spot in the sectionals where they lost to Siegel.
In 2010-11, Ooltewah shared the District 5-AAA title and won the district tournament, dropping McMinn County in a four-overtime championship game. The Owls lost to Cleveland in the Region 3-AAA tourney semifinals.
Two years ago, the Owls (27-5) captured the District 5-AAA regular-season crown and finished runner-up to rival Bradley Central in the district tournament. Ooltewah avenged that loss in the Region 3-AAA title game and hosted the school’s first home sectional game.
When they defeated Smyrna, 69-55, the Owls claimed their first state-tournament berth since former coach Ed Foster, whom the Ooltewah gymnasium is named, took the 1980 team to the state. Ooltewah lost in the first round to Memphis Central, 67-54.
This past season, the Owls went 19-11 and lost to top-ranked Blackman, 84-58, in the sectionals.
They won the district regular-season title, but were upset by Walker Valley in the semifinals, 62-59, on a desperation mid-court, 3-point shot at the final buzzer.
Ooltewah defeated host Cleveland, 75-69, to earn third place and a spot in the Region 3-AAA quarterfinals at White County, where the Owls won, 76-67, setting up the season-ending game at Blackman in Murfreesboro.
“This will be my 18th year coaching,” Nayadley said. “I always wanted to reach 500 wins. Now, I don’t know about that. I’m a coach. I’ve always been a coach. It’s what I know. I’m excited about what’s ahead, though. Again, with great people around me and Jim Jarvis providing me with a wealth of knowledge, my decision to take this administration job was a lot easier. With everybody pitching in, we’ll get there.”
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)