Fort Campbell High School basketball will start the 2018-2019 season with two new head coaches.
Former Fort Campbell athletic director Charles Poole will be the head coach of the Lady Falcons, while Robbie Townsend ascended from assistant coach to take the helm of the Falcons.
The Lady Falcons will play their first home game against Crittenden County High School at 6 p.m., Nov. 26 in the gym of the newly built school at 912 Carentan Road. The Falcons will play their first home game against Clarksville Christian at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 27.
Poole will be drawing on his experience coaching football, wrestling and basketball in his new position as the Lady Falcons head coach.
“[I want to] try to do some team building skills,” Poole said. “[I want to] try to motivate the girls to be able to compete. We kind of lacked that competitiveness over the last couple of years. By building those team skills and building team motivation and trying to instill confidence … it’s teaching some life lessons through the game.”
One of the life lessons Poole said he wants to teach the Lady Falcons is perseverance.
“Some of the things that I’ve noticed from [my previous coaching experiences] is that a lot of the kids get down when they lose,” Poole said. “But the biggest thing that I’ve always told my athletes is follow it through to the end. Because if you follow something through to the end, the less likely [it is] that you will quit or give up on something down the road as life goes on or when you get into a career.” Joining Poole is assistant coach Larry Dixon.
“I have volunteered for 4-5 years [coaching at Taylor Youth Center],” Dixon said. “It is a passion for me. I enjoy giving back to the community, so when this opportunity [to coach the Lady Falcons] presented itself to me I jumped on it. I’m excited.”
Dixon said the coaches are focused on reinforcing the Lady Falcons’ fundamentals.
“We’re conditioning, making sure that they are in basketball shape,” Dixon said. “Basketball is a running sport so to be in shape is really crucial as we get ready to start the season. [We are] just teaching the fundamentals of dribbling, shooting, passing. We are running some plays so we’re just trying to make sure they comprehend and know where they’re supposed to be as they execute the plays. We’re getting ready to introduce our defensive scheme, hopeful we can run a unified zone, move together and then maybe some man to man.”
Brianna Dugger, a returning Lady Falcons senior, said she is happy the basketball season is starting.
“I don’t have any [returning teammates], but I’ve been starting to play with these girls,” Dugger said. “They’re very positive and enthusiastic about the season so I’m excited to play with them.”
Dugger said she is impressed with her new teammates.
“They have excelled in their defense,” Dugger said. “They get better at that every practice. We work on it in our drills. [I admire] their determination to be better. I’d like to see us score more points this year. As long as we work together and do our best, that’s all that really matters. Come to our first game on [Nov. 26].”
Townsend is enthusiastic to be taking the role of head coach.
“I think we’ll have an exciting season,” Townsend said. “I am impressed. I’ve got a good group of guys. They work hard.”
Townsend said the Falcons will be making drastic changes to improve on last season’s record of 6-19.
“We’ll have a 20-win season this year, for sure,” Townsend said. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
Cameron Johnson, a returning senior, is optimistic about Townsend’s new approach.
“We have a new coach, a new system, it’s looking bright in my opinion,” Johnson said. “I think that [Townsend]’s taking things more seriously. He’s holding us to a higher standard, making sure we’re conducting ourselves well on and off the court. Making sure we’re all on time, jerseys tucked in, being good teammates to each other.”
Townsend is a graduate of FCHS and was part of the team’s last winning record in 2008.
“We’ve been in the hole for a long time, a very long time,” said Doryan Hall, a senior on the Falcons. “I just moved here in May, and I hope to make a change quick with some other new guys.”
Hall is impressed with his new teammates.
“They work very hard,” Hall said. “We’re trying to get disciplined. It’s hard, because we’ve always got a lot of new guys coming in, so we’ve got to match chemistries that we haven’t built yet. As we build chemistry throughout the season, it just gets better and better down the line.”
Isaiah Blyden, a recent transfer from West Creek High School in Clarksville and another senior on the Falcons, is also impressed with his teammates.
“I think there’s more Family here because it’s more of a smaller population,” Blyden said. “Everybody knows each other, everybody’s always interacting, there’s not someone you’ve never seen before. Everyone’s really familiar and I really like that about [FCHS]. Everybody knows that they can hold their own. They go out and do it every day in practice. Hopefully that will translate into the real thing.”
Townsend said he and his coaching staff are focused on the Falcons’ grades as well as their performance on the court.
“[We’re] real big on academics … because we have student athletes, and student comes first for a reason,” Townsend said. “Without school, there’s no basketball.”
The Falcons have noticed Townsend’s concern in his players’ well-being.
“He walks around the school, makes sure our pants are pulled up, makes sure our grades are straight, just doing the little things,” Johnson said.
“[Townsend and I] talk all the time, every time I see him I make sure to shake his hand,” Hall said. “I ask him how his day is going, he asks me how my day is going. It’s just a normal thing.”
The players are hoping for the support of their community when the season starts.
“We work hard every single day,” Blyden said. “We’ve got to work on discipline but we’ll be ready for Nov. 27.”
“Come support us,” Hall said. “We’re making changes. This year we’re trying to make history. We need y’all.”