The Gallatin High School girls basketball program is replacing one green-and-gold graduate with another of the same.
It was announced on Monday that Malcolm Montgomery will succeed Kim Kendrick at the helm of the Lady Wave program.
“I’m very excited, overjoyed to be in this position,” the 43-year-old Montgomery said. “I’m very familiar. I grew up there. I’m coming home, but I have to keep an even keel.
“It’s definitely a lot of work. I didn’t sign up for a fairy tale situation. I have to be the voice and a person who has an even keel every day. I can’t get too high or too low, but I’m very excited and very honored to come back.”
Kendrick announced her resignation in late January after leading the program for 18 seasons.
“It’s home,” Montgomery – who had two nephews (senior guard J’Quen Johnson and sophomore guard Nigel Black) playing for the Gallatin High this past season – said. “A lot of times, you go to games. I would always come to games. You would sit in the stands, and people would say what they wish kids would do. I’m not coach killer (criticizer), but you hear things that the people would like to see.
“When I would come back, I was thinking in my mind, ‘if the position ever came open, any position basketball-wise, I wanted to take a close look at it.’ This was the right time in my coaching career.”
Montgomery was one of approximately 50 applicants.
“We were very impressed by the amount of applicants and the quality,” Gallatin athletic director Phillip Sanders said. “Out of the 50, I’d say two dozen were head coaches. There was a lot of interest by people with head-coaching experience.”
The school talked to approximately six or eight applicants before conducting four interviews.
“It was his enthusiasm and his energy, his willingness to get right in,” Sanders said of the deciding factor. “He has a plan for the whole program.
“This is someone who will reach out to the community. He’s someone who can reach out to the middle schools. He’s someone who has the energy and excitement to where kids will want to play for him. He’s going to know the families. He’s going to know the students. It was the same thing with Kim. It’s just a little different dynamic with Malcolm. We have to have the energy, excitement and the enthusiasm to get the kids to Gallatin High School.”
Montgomery added, “I haven’t lived in Gallatin in 25 years. The kids that play now, I probably played with or went to school with their parents. That was the deciding factor for me. I bleed green and gold like they do. It’s something that’s real. I have an added force that pushes me forward so that they can do well.”
Montgomery served as the freshman coach at Blackman High School for one season and then had stints as an assistant coach at Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) College, Trevecca Nazarene University and Cumberland University over the next four seasons. Then, he was the head coach at Columbia State Community College for four seasons (2005-09), followed by four years as the head coach at Warren County High School.
Montgomery didn’t coach during the 2013-14 campaign, but he was back on the sideline this past season, coaching the Warren County Middle School girls basketball team. That was the first time he had coached girls basketball, other than having coached the Tennessee Team Pride fourth-grade girls team two years ago and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) organization’s fifth-grade girls team last summer (which won the Division II state championship).
“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Montgomery added, “I really got into it. I really like it”
Sanders added, “That was a concern before the interview (having limited experience coaching girls). After the interview, listening to his plan, it was not a concern. What he’s doing and his plans are not just the way of coaching male athletes. His way will relate to females just as well as males.”
Montgomery – whose Warren County Middle sixth-grade squad had a 16-1 record this past season and won the county championship and whose eighth-grade team compiled a 15-6 record – admitted that there is a different dynamic involved with coaching girls basketball, though his coaching style hasn’t changed.
“I coach the way I coach,” Montgomery said. “I coach them the same. The only difference I see is that the boys game is a more athletic game.
“With the girls, they basically do what you ask them to do. I like that. It makes them easier to coach. What I’m mostly shocked about is how hard some of them will work. A lot of them will step up and do what you ask what them to do. They will work, sometimes harder than the guys.”
Having coached at different levels – and now having coached both genders – was also viewed as an asset.
“I think it’s a positive having that broad and diverse background,” Sanders said. “He’s coached on all levels. He’s going to do what’s best for the program to make it successful.”
Montgomery added, “It has really helped me a lot. It made me a better coach period. On the different levels, you have to make sure the instructions are very clear. When your talent curve is very high, you don’t have to be as detailed as when the talent level goes down. It helped me see the game at a different level. All the way down to middle school, it helped me with understanding how the ins and outs of the game work.”
Montgomery helped the Green Wave boys basketball program to regional-semifinal appearances in both 1989 and 1990 (the first two years of Dwight Waller’s head-coaching tenure, following previous head coach Jerry Vradenburg’s departure).
Montgomery went on to play at Lipscomb University, helping the program to four national-tournament appearances.
Montgomery will meet his players on Wednesday.