May 10, 2014

Former star takes over Christian Heritage boys basketball

Christian Heritage’s new boys basketball coach is familiar name.

The school hope Tyler Watkins succeeds as a high school coach just like he did as a player.

The former Christian Heritage basketball standout accepted the position around a week ago and ended the hiring search a little more than one month since the school posted two openings, this one and the girls basketball coaching vacancy. Watkins replaces Anthony Moseley, who resigned after two seasons due to health issues.

“We had some great candidates for the job, guys with years of experience,” Christian Heritage athletic director Preston Poag said. “In the interview process, he’s just a sharp guy. I talked to the Shorter coach and he talked for a while how much he means to their program. He’ll come in and be a no-nonsense coach and will teach fundamentals. We’re excited to have him.”

Poag declined to give Watkins’ salary.

The school is still in the process of hiring a replacement for girls coach Heather Lowery, and the baseball coaching position is open as well after Noah Stokes announced his resignation earlier this week.

Watkins graduated from Christian Heritage in 2007 with tons of accolades from the basketball court. He holds two school records (career points, 3,689; career assists, 805) and was named The Daily Citizen’s 2006-07 All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year. In his four seasons at Christian Heritage, the Lions reached the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools championship all four years and won twice.

Watkins has the chance to coach his alma mater, something many would love to do.

“It’s kind of weird how the Lord works,” Watkins said in a phone interview Saturday with The Daily Citizen. “I thought I’d be at Shorter and then heard about the (Christian Heritage) job and called about it. Our family is excited and it happened so quick. The biggest thing about me is Christian Heritage changed my life. When I left, I was a different person than when I started. That’s from an athletic, spiritual and academic perspective. I just want to give back to a school that gave me so much.”

In college, he played two seasons with Shorter University in Rome after playing for two seasons with Trevecca Nazerene University in Nashville, Tenn. The Dalton native and resident became a graduate assistant during the 2011-12 season and transitioned next season to a full-time assistant role. He graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management and earned a master’s degree in early childhood education in 2012. Poag said Watkins will teach at the elementary level but did not specifically know which subject.

“I feel like I’m smiling all the time,” Watkins said. “I have all of these things that are my decisions. I get to build the staff and work with the kids. ... The biggest thing is we want to get the right people working with the kids, and help them reach their dreams of hopefully playing college basketball.”

Aside from his playing accomplishments, Watkins’ coaching career also is filled with success.

Shorter, an NCAA Division-II program, once was a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school as part of the Southern States Athletic Conference. With Watkins as an assistant, the men’s basketball team finished the 2011-2012 season 34-3, holding the No. 1 ranking in the NAIA coaches poll, and reached the national semifinals. In the 2012-2013 season, as part of its transition to the NCAA, Shorter won the National Christian College Athletic Association national championship.

“Tyler has been an integral part of our success here at Shorter,” the school’s head coach, Chad Warner, said in Christian Heritage’s press release announcing the hire. “I am so happy for him and Christian Heritage. They are truly getting one of the best.”

Christian Heritage missed the state playoffs in each of its first two basketball seasons competing in the GHSA. The school began competition in the GHSA in 2012 after spending the previous five seasons in the Georgia Independent School Association.

“I saw them play a team camp last year at Shorter’s summer camp,” Watkins said of the Lions. “I saw some of the younger players in the program.

“All you have to do is drive by the school and you can see big things going on there.”

Formerly the Christian Heritage middle school boys basketball coach, Moseley had surgery in 2007 to remove pancreatic cancer — and with it, his spleen and three-quarters of his pancreas. While he felt fine during the 2012-13 season, he suffered a blood clot “in the area where my pancreas was,” Moseley said in a previous interview with The Daily Citizen, and doctors had him take blood thinners and other medications.

After resigning, Moseley said he often was fatigued due to the medications, was “just trying to make it through the season” and had to leave practice numerous times.

Poag said a decision will be made shortly about the girls basketball position. Lowery coached for 14 seasons and her accomplishments included leading the Lady Lions to the GISA Class 2A state title game in 2008 and the semifinals of the same tournament in 2012. The Lady Lions were 241-135 in Lowery’s 14 seasons as head varsity coach, with five GISA state playoff appearances and three GISA Region 4-2A championships.

Before Christian Heritage’s five-year GISA tenure, the school competed in the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools. Lowery and the Lady Lions won three region championships and made three state appearances in that association. At the beginning of Lowery’s tenure, Christian Heritage was part of the North Georgia Association of Christian Schools, which she said didn’t have a state tournament.

He added there are three candidates being considered but declined to say who.

Since posting the two openings, the school’s baseball coach also became available with Noah Stokes’ resignation. Poag said the school is beginning the interview process. Stokes, the father of current senior baseball player Jake Stokes, coached Christian Heritage for 13 years and started the program as a middle school team in 2002. He also was athletic director from 2001 to 2005 and started the school’s football program.

“He’s meant a lot to the program,” Poag said. “He’s done a lot for the school. Not only has he been a baseball coach but also an AD and assistant football coach. He’s been a good friend of mine. ... I’m glad he got to finish out with Jake’s senior year.”

Jake Stokes signed an athletic scholarship last week with Cleveland State Community College and will continue his baseball career. The elder Stokes led Christian Heritage to the GISA Class 2A state playoffs each of the five seasons in the classification, won the Region 4-2A title once and reached the GISA state semifinals once. In 2013, the Lions’ baseball program became the school’s first to reach the GHSA state playoffs.

“I’m proud of what we were able to start,” coach Stokes said. “I started because my son, Jake, was in kindergarten. I didn’t want kids to leave because the school didn’t have successful sports programs.”

Text Only
  • Todd roasted 1 mlh.jpg One last 'Goodbye' for coach Todd

    Charles Todd talks to parents and coaches before his going-away party Tuesday in the Dalton High School commons area.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fishing Lures3cw.jpg Turner lured into love of learning fishing business

    Fishing and tall tales go hand in hand, and after nearly three decades in a business supplying local anglers, Phil Turner has heard just about all of them.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S. Amateur dreams over for local golfers

    Dalton golfers Chase Miller and Will Morrow traveled to Cincinnati on Tuesday in an attempt to earn a spot in the U.S. Amateur Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, but neither earned one of the three qualifying spots at the 6,588-yard, par-70 course at Camargo Club.

    July 23, 2014

  • Report: Boggs now with Giants

    Dalton’s Mitchell Boggs has signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants, according to Contract information, along with which minor league affiliate Boggs, a pitcher, will start with, was not available in the report, and Boggs was not listed on any of the online rosters for any of the Giants’ minor league affiliates.

    July 21, 2014

  • SE wrestling practice 5 mlh.jpg Herndon leaving Raiders to coach at Calhoun; new coach named at SE Whitfield

    Michael Herndon’s successful three-year run as Southeast Whitfield High School’s wrestling coach has come to an end.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Hipp makes cut at qualifying tourney

    Chatsworth golfer Colby Hipp earned the chance to play on today in a U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament at Reynolds Plantation-Great Waters in Eatonton.

    July 21, 2014

  • 7on7 day 2 '14 17 mlh.jpg Devin Golden: Friday signals gridiron days’ official start

    Seven-on-seven football was a good placeholder, but it’s time to begin talking about the real thing.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • CCAC-B&W.jpg CCAC has strong showing at 14-and-under state meet

    The Carpet Capital Aquatics Club had 16 club records broken in a 12th-place finish at the 2014 Georgia 14-and-under Long Course State Championship meet Saturday at Georgia Tech’s swimming facility.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Loran Smith: Golf now in era of McIlroy after Open

    Royal & Ancient officials, under whose auspices the Open championship is conducted each year, were blessed with a sun-kissed start of the final round of the 143rd playing of this historic event.

    July 21, 2014

  • Motocross kid 6 mlh.jpg Dirt, gas and guts

    Lucas Amos is like a lot of other 6-year-olds who will be going into first grade at Tunnel Hill Elementary this school year.
    He likes to play the video game sensation Minecraft, building different structures and fending off zombies when the sun goes down. He likes to spend time with his grandparents, traveling around the Southeast with them most every weekend.
    And he likes to play in the dirt.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo