CCHS's Jonathan Odom experienced a litteral "dream come true" when he was hired as Cannon County's new girls basketball coach.
Odom takes over the successful program after previous head coach Michael Dodgen left to take the same position at White County. Odom had spent the previous seven seasons as an assistant for the CCHS boys' basketball team.
"The biggest dream anyone could have is to be a head coach and I am no different," Odom said on June 11. "I feel very blessed to have my first opportunity with a program like CCHS that has so much history and tradition. To be able to do it in my hometown and that just adds to it. I think that it is a big plus and just the knowledge of the fan base here and how passionate they are and knowing the history and tradition and the expectations is invaluable."
During Dodgen's decade at CCHS, he helped lead the Lionettes to four state tournament appearances in five seasons including last season's surprising run to the Elite Eight after finishing fifth in the district during the regular season. Odom understands the player's mindset of wanting to continue the program's winning expectations.
"They are so used to winning and they do not know anything different," Odom said. "That is a credit to Dodgen and the previous staff. That is so huge, because a lot of times when a coach take over a program they've got to 'change the culture.'
"The culture is already here. That makes my job easier in one way, but also challenging to have that pressure to keep that going. The girls are very driven, and they do not expect to take a step back. I am not going to put any guarantees that we are going to make it back to state, or how many games we are going to win. The girls expect that and I expect that," he said.
The Lionettes and their new coach jumped into the hard work last week at a team camp at Murfreesboro Siegel preparing for the upcoming season. The camp also gave the players a chance to learn about their new head coach's style of play. At the same time, Odom already was knowledgable about the players since he has been a part of the CCHS athletic program for the past seven years under current boys' basketball coach and new athletic director Matt Rigsby.
The Lionettes finished last season with magical run through the postseason after finishing fifth in district play. The run ended in the quarterfinals of the state tournament and now Odom is now looking to replace three outgoing seniors from that team. However, CCHS will return starters including girls basketball player of the year, Kelli Davis along with Autumn King. Also look for last year's key subs Emily Sissom and Haylee Mooneyham to have increased roles during the 2015-16 season.
"This summer is going to be exploratory in finding our best roster and best starting five and trying to see how well they play together," Odom said.
As for the playing style, Odom hopes to continue the success, while adding some new ideas to both sides of the ball. On defense, he wants to establish a full-court pressure defense along with some half court man-to-man with a touch of zone for the Lionettes. While, on offense, Odom is working on playing four guards and a post using different motions, including more cutting and screening to the basket to go along with the three-point shooting.
Besides being the new girls' basketball coach, Odom is the carpentry teacher at CCHS. In that class students build things with Odom's help and hopes to use that classroom experience to help continuing building the Lionettes program.
"Every building starts out with a foundation, and the great thing about this job is a foundation has already been laid," Odom said. "The bricks have already been laid but the biggest thing I need to do is provide leadership. The winning culture is already here and my job is to keep it going and take it even further and that is what I am going to try to do. You move on from one level to the next when you building something and that is what I want to do with this program. It has already been taken to a high level and it is my job to keep it there and take it even further."