Drew Lyness will be getting a different view of District 5-3A girls’ basketball next season.
Lyness, who just completed his sixth season as Soddy-Daisy’s head coach, has been hired as the new girls’ coach at Walker Valley, replacing the retiring Paul Cretton.
In four seasons, Cretton went 57-59 with the Lady Mustangs with two winning and two losing campaigns.
“This is going to be a new challenge and I’m looking forward to it,” Lyness said while watching the Bradley Central-Soddy-Daisy region baseball game on Wednesday. “I’ll be competing with a state champion Bradley Central team in our backyard, plus a really good Cleveland team. I can’t wait to become invested in the community and the school and I want to see the team and school buy into what I want to do.”
The 32-year-old Lyness applied for the position in April and interviewed with Walker Valley administrators on May 8. He was informed exactly a week later to the day that he was the Lady Mustangs’ new coach.
“When the principal (Nat Akiona) called me today I was surprised and excited,” Lyness said. “I was also happy to be so speechless.”
The Soddy-Daisy girls’ program has struggled for years and hasn’t posted a winning record (15-13) since the 2008-09 season.
In his six seasons as head coach, Lyness went 50-118. His second squad was 13-15, the nearest he came to a winning season. The Lady Trojans were 13-17 the following season.
Lyness was an assistant for two years before being promoted to the head position for the 2013-14 season.
“I believe Walker Valley was looking for someone with high energy and enthusiasm for the job and someone to put new blood into the program,” Lyness said. “I think my organization and plan for the coming year played a huge part in my being hired.”
Soddy-Daisy went 0-12 in district play last season and Walker Valley was just ahead of the Lady Trojans at 3-9. The Lady Mustangs beat Soddy-Daisy three times, including once in the district tournament.
Lyness says both assistant coaches from last year are also leaving Walker Valley and one of his assistants last year at Soddy-Daisy, Kaylan Withrow, will continue as an assistant at Walker Valley.
“I’m happy Kaylan is going with me,” Lyness said. “She is a Bradley Central alum and played college ball at Auburn-Montgomery where she was an all-American.”
Lyness plans to meet with the Walker Valley players on Friday with tryouts and practice at the end of next week. There is a young core of the team that played extensively last season and Lyness is confident that group will make up the nucleus for the 2019-20 team.
The coach said he’s also watched a lot of film of Walker Valley from last year over “the past two or three weeks.”
Lyness admitted leaving Soddy-Daisy for a new job at Walker Valley wasn’t easy.
“It was bittersweet to say the least,” he said. “I’ve worked with my best friend (Soddy-Daisy athletic director Jared Hensley) for the past eight years and I’m going to miss that a lot. I’m also going to miss not coaching my top rising seniors Katie Hamby and Bailey Branam.”
(Contact Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @larryfleming44)