By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
CORBIN — The man friends, colleagues, students and players past and present simply refer to as Coach Mac got a word added to his name Thursday – he’s now head coach.
At a press conference held Thursday, longtime Corbin Redhounds’ assistant coach and former Redhounds’ standout Jason McDaniel was tabbed as the choice to lead the Lady Redhounds’ program into the future.
An admittedly nervous and at times emotional McDaniel thanked past coaches, as well as family and friends for help in making him the person he is, as well as Corbin administrators for giving him the opportunity to be a head coach.
“As a coach I want to give back what was given to me,” McDaniel said. “I was very lucky growing up to have great coaches, coach (Billy) Hicks, coach (Randy) Vernon, Mr. (Dave) Cox, coach (Darrell) Tremaine, I could go on and on, but if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be sitting here today.
“I just want to be able to transfer back to the kids what was given to me growing up,” he added. “At Corbin we strive to be the best and this season there are a lot of expectations as well as a bulls-eye on our back, but I welcome those expectations because without them, it’s hard to grow.”
McDaniel replaces former coach Jennifer Parsons and inherits a team that is coming off a 13th Region Championship and a trip to the state tournament, which means the pressure to succeed could be on from the word go.
The good news is that McDaniel is no stranger to that kind of pressure. He was part of the coaching staff that helped guide the Redhounds to back-to-back 13th Region titles in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.
McDaniel said that experience, as well as many others he’s experienced as an assistant, would help with the transition and the expectation to succeed right away.
“I’ve been a part of the back-to-back region championship team 2009-10 and we were able to win one before that in 2005, so I know what it’s like,” McDaniel said. “Coach Parsons has built a strong program and she’s left some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to put forth a lot of effort in not only maintaining that level, but to try and go beyond.”
In addition to his 12 years as an assistant under boys’ head coach Tony Pietrowski, McDaniel’s basketball experience includes his high school career at Corbin where he played four years before moving on to play for the University of the Cumberlands (then Cumberland College) for four years under Vernon. McDaniel has taught health and physical education in the Corbin School System for 12 years.
As for letting go of his spot as an assistant under Pietrowski, McDaniel said the decision was a bittersweet one.
Pietrowski said having coach McDaniel move on was a big loss for the program, but he was as proud of his friend as anybody in the building Thursday.
“I think this was a great hire for the program because he brings stability, which is something that we pride ourselves in here at Corbin,” Pietrowski said. “Coach McDaniel is a guy that has put a lot of time and effort in around here and he knows the game.
“In all honesty, he’s been a head coach for a while under me because I put a lot of responsibilities on him and delegated a lot of things his way,” he added. “He’s done an outstanding job and it’s a big loss for me and our staff, but I’m just really glad to see him represent Corbin and I’m looking forward to what he can do.”