Malcolm Montgomery always wants to practice what he preaches. It is the biggest reason why he is no longer the coach of the Warren County High School boys basketball team.
Montgomery resigned Thursday, leaving the program after a four-year tenure as the Pioneer head coach. The decision to step down was a tough one for Montgomery, but one he made as he realized he couldn’t make a full investment to the program.
“As a coach, I’ve always asked my players to be fully invested in what we’re doing,” said Montgomery. “After this season, I started thinking if I could go into next season committed.
“I didn’t know if I could be all the way in, and it would be a disservice to the kids to not be fully invested in them.”
Montgomery was hired in Warren County before the 2009-10 season and took over a squad that had won two games its previous year. Montgomery went on to win 43 games over the span of four years and snapped a regional-tournament drought in the process.
With a 2010 win over Coffee County in the District 6-AAA tournament, the Pioneers went to their first regional tournament in eight years. It was one of five wins for the team in Montgomery’s inaugural year and the total continued to grow during his stay.
While Montgomery’s 2011-12 squad was his best by record, finishing 15-15, it was also his only team to not make a regional tournament. That season featured a game in Van Buren County where Montgomery took his team off the court during overtime, an action which resulted in a $500 fine by the TSSAA.
Montgomery came back last year to lead a youthful Pioneer team to 13 wins and the team’s third regionall tournament in four years under the head coach.
Montgomery believes the years he spent on the sidelines for Warren County were successful ones.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished,” said Montgomery. “I think the wins and regional bids are a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication of the kids we had in our program. I know everybody wants to win state championships, but on a larger scale, I believe we accomplished what we wanted.”
Montgomery, who played at David Lipscomb University under Don Meyer, learned from his former coach that he should always leave a place in better standing than when he inherited it. Warren County High School athletic director Todd Willmore believes Montgomery took the Pioneers to new heights.
“I believe Malcolm leaves the program in better shape than it was in when he arrived,” said Willmore. “He did a good job for us.”
While Montgomery will no longer be coaching the Pioneers, he may stick around Warren County. Montgomery knows he will coach again, perhaps moving back to the college level, but he continues to enjoy McMinnville.
“I really like the community and have enjoyed my time in Warren County,” said Montgomery. “Until a new person is brought in, I’ll take part in open gyms just playing against the guys.
“I got the bug to coach in college again and if I was to take a job later, I feel like I would leave Warren County in a bind. I just wanted to do what was best for the program.”
Willmore says the search will begin immediately for the next Warren County High School basketball coach. The job has been posted and applicants will be reviewed and interviewed in the coming weeks.