By Doug Gorman
With Southern Crescent squads Dutchtown and Forest Park girls still hoping to convert their trip to the Class AAAA Final Four into a state title, at least one other school has already turned its attention to the 2010-11 basketball season.
Tuesday morning Eagle's Landing Christian Academy officially introduced Jay Covington as its new boys basketball coach during the school's chapel services.
The job opened when ELCA decided to replace long-time coach Buck Hunter. Hunter began coaching at the private Christian School in McDonough when it was still affiliated with the Georgia Independent School Association and he took the team through the transition period when it became a member of the Georgia High School Athletic Association.
However, Hunter was an employee of Delta Airlines, and not a teacher at ELCA.
"We were in a unique situation with Coach Hunter, who did an incredible job, not being here fulltime," ELCA athletic director Scott Queen said. " The GHSA grandfathered him in, but with the school growing and the athletic program growing, we just felt like we needed our basketball coach on staff full time."
The search to find the school's next coach didn't take long or have to go outside the ELCA staff.
Covington, an algebra teach at ELCA, has served most recently as defensive coordinator of the football team, but has an extensive basketball background.
The Belmont University graduate worked in basketball opeartion when he was in college, then jumped into coaching at the middle school level at Lighthouse Christian School near Nashville. He also served as an assitant athletic director.
He was named the varsity head coach at the school in 2002-03.
Then he headed to Georgia.
"The Lord led me down here to a position at Athens Christian. I was head girls basketball coach there for three years until they decided they wanted me to coach the boys. Then the Lord led me here to ELCA.
Covington spent his early years at ELCA commuting between Athens and McDonough.
The three-hour round trip made it impossible to stay involved with basketball, but now that he and his family are settled in the Southerh Crescent, he can't wait to get back in the gym.
"It would have been impssoible to coach football and basketball while making that commute. I would have never got home until midnight. This past year I got the bug again to get back into coaching basketball whether it was as an assistant or head coach. I was excited when the opportunity opened up to be the head coach. My head coach experiences have been short so to speak, but they have been prodictive so I am looking forward to what we can do with this program."
Now that Covington is the new varsity basketball coach, he will no long serve as the football team's defensiver coordinator.
"Basketball is so time consuming, and these kids and their parents invest so much time, I don't feel like I can do both. I am going to help out with the jayvee team and as a position coach, up until basketball season starts," he said.
Covington admits sitting the stands and watching a basketball game was tough.
"I could only sit so long. It was just tough not being a part of coaching those kids. You are always coaching from the stands, which is something people do anyway, but when your background is in basketball, it's tough. Being out of the game two or three years was something I missed with a passion."
ELCA's new coach already has a relationship with his new players.
He has coached many of them in football or junior varsity baseball, or taught them in school.
"I have been around these guys, and they know me already. They don't know me as a basketball coach, but they know me as a coach and as a mentor. so that is an easy transition."
The response to Covington, who was officially introduced to the student body during the school's Tuesday morning chapel services, was overwheelming.
"If it wasn't a standing ovation, it was close" Queen said.
Covington takes over a basketball program that went 10-12 in the 2009-10 season.