Vincent Royals, a former coach at St. James who has experience starting a basketball program from scratch, is returning to Montgomery to do it again.
Royals has been named the boys coach at the city’s newest high school and will lead the Park Crossing Thunderbirds this fall.
“I’m excited about coming up there to a new era and a new situation,” Royals said. “This is a situation where your team create its own legacy.”
The 58-year-old Mobile native has been the coach at LeFlore the last four seasons. Prior to that, he spent two years at St. James.
One of Royals’ previous stops was as the first coach at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology in Charlotte, N.C.
In Berry’s first year as a school, its players suited up for a nearby rival-to-be before the Cardinals broke out their own uniforms. Berry was 12-45 in its first three seasons under Royals.
“It’s an experience I have, and I really relish the opportunity to do that in my home state,” said Royals, who said he and Park Crossing principal Rocky Smith are deciding on uniforms now.
“We’re trying to come up with something that will be very eye-catching and still fall in line with the color scheme.”
The Thunderbirds are using cardinal, navy blue and silver as their colors.
“We want to set our identity and establish ourselves,” said Smith, a former baseball coach at LAMP. “When I was a coach, I was fortunate to have good people around me. We feel that about Coach Royals and all of our coaches.”
Park Crossing opens next month with only ninth- and 10th-graders and the boys and girls basketball teams will play a junior varsity schedule this year.
“We hope to get some competitive games and christen those guys the right way,” Royals said. “We’re going to try to get in there next week and do some things. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to meet some of the potential players.”
Royals was 16-36 in two seasons at St. James, 67-37 at Smiths Station and 59-16 as Alabama A&M’s head women’s coach. He was also a men’s assistant at A&M from 1987-96.
He was a combined 62-31 in three of his four years at LeFlore. The record for the 2011-12 team, the only one to not reach at least a subregional, wasn’t immediately available.
“What impressed us about Coach Royals was his ability to lead, work with and mentor young men around the game of basketball,” Smith said. “He has some great ideas of what it means to be on a team and to do things the right way.”