By Chris Parsons / Sports Editor
KNOX CENTRAL — After a search that lasted just more than a month, the Knox Central Lady Panthers’ basketball team has a new leader.
Or an old leader if you take in to consideration the new coach’s past with the program.
Former Lady Panther standout Wendi Messer was named the new head coach during a press conference at the school Tuesday morning. Messer, who graduated after the 2006-07 season, takes over for former head coach Darren Mills, who held the position for 15 seasons, posting a 166-268 overall record.
Messer was a pivotal part of three straight 51st District Championship teams (2004-05, ‘05-‘06 and ‘06-‘07) and helped guide the Lady Panthers to two of the three winning seasons experienced under Mills’ direction.
Messer said she’s not only excited to be in the position she’s in, but looking forward to the challenge of seeing the program advance in the future.
“I want to thank everybody that has shown faith in me that I can do this job,” Messer said. “If this was any other school I wouldn’t be sitting here, but I take pride in this school and that’s going to put a lot of pressure on me to succeed.
“This is home and I look forward to coaching these girls and turning everything around,” she added. “Hopefully we can get better every day and be the best team that we can possibly be.”
The job was posted after a press release from Knox County Schools on April 9 stated that the position would be posted as open for 10 days, which is not uncommon from season to season as coaches are hired on a year-to-year contract basis. At the time, Knox Central Athletics Director Jeff Canady said he wanted to have a coach in place by the time the summer basketball schedule began. After the search, Canady said he was happy with the result.
“We had an interview process during which we received quite a few applications for the position,” Canady said. “Through that process we feel like we’ve come up with the best choice for our program and for our young ladies.
“We have somebody that’s going to bring excitement, energy and enthusiasm to our program,” he added. “We feel like this program has no ceiling and that we can achieve anything that any other program in the state can achieve. With that said, we feel like Wendi Messer is the right choice to take us in that direction and I’m sure she’s going to hit the ground running.”
Knox Central posted a 5-25 record this past season before being eliminated in postseason play thanks to a 35-26 loss to Lynn Camp in the 51st District Tournament. The good news for Messer is she’ll only lose one senior from last year’s roster and returns a slew of talented underclassmen.
Win or lose, Messer said when all is said and done she’s hopeful that she can teach the players that come through the program about more than just basketball skills as she tries to prepare them for life after basketball.
“Hopefully after they move on from our program, they’ll say that not only did I help get them ready basketball-wise, but that I taught them things they can take further in life,” Messer said. “Hopefully I can teach them on both sides of things and be someone they can come to in life and rely on for anything.”
Former standout Messer named Lady Panthers' new coach
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