By Doug Gorman
Lonnie Farmer is only five years removed from his college graduation at East Carolina University, but now he is in charge of his own high school basketball team.
Farmer was introduced Wednesday afternoon as the new coach of the Forest Park Panthers.
He replaces long-time coach Lamar Oglesby. Farmer started his career as an assistant coach at Mundy's Mill High School.
After meeting with returning members of the Forest Park basketball squad Wednesday morning, Farmer is ready to hit the ground running.
"It was a good meeting," he said. "You never know how that is going to go, especially for the rising seniors who have played for the same coach for three years. You don't know if they are going to be angry or supportive, but it was a positive first meeting."
Farmer fits into athletic director Thomas Chisholm's plans for building a strong sports program.
Last season, the girls' basketball team enjoyed one of its best years ever and this spring, the baseball squad has been state ranked for the first time in years.
"He is young and full of energy," said Chisholm. "He also has knowledge of the game and he knows what it is going to take to win here. We have some talented players coming up through the program."
Farmer promises he will build his team around solid defense.
"Good basketball program's offense feeds off their defense," he said. "That's where we will begin."
Farmer is already looking to register his new team in summer camps. He also plans to host a youth camp to help give the Forest Park program some new exposure in the community.
Along with his desire to win on the court, Farmer stresses the importance of strong academics too.
"I feel like one of my jobs is to see that players succeed in the classroom," he said.
Farmer calls his young age an asset.
"I think in this day and age coaches need to really be able to relate to their players," he said. "Since I am close to their age I should be able to do that."