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Ball does coaching road trip to further prepare for KCHS girls hoops job

Finding himself at a coaches clinic in South Carolina, David Ball was quick to say, “I gotta learn, gotta continue to grow.”

Ball, however, learned enough under head coach Donald Dodgen with the Farragut High School boys basketball team to impress Knoxville Catholic officials and take over as varsity girls basketball head coach for 2007-08.

After two interviews with those officials in early April, the announcement was made public Monday, April 17.

The 34-year-old, an FHS hoop assistant five years, also is a first-year head coach with the Admiral boys track team.

“The time comes in your life when you have a crossroad,” said Ball, a 1991 FHS graduate who was voted “most improved player” as an Admiral guard. “I’ve been an assistant for five years and I truly love Farragut High School, but sometimes, to get a little bit better, you’ve got to spread your wings and fly.

“Knoxville Catholic has given me the opportunity to be their girls head coach, and I really like the vision that they’re looking forward to in the next five to ten years,” he added. “Hopefully I can build a winner.”

Despite a 12-19 record in 2006-07 for a program that has struggled in recent seasons, the Lady Irish return nine of its top 11 players for 2007-08, Ball said.

“They actually got to the region tournament for the first time in ten years, so there’s potential there,” the new KCHS skipper said. “I’m excited to get in there and get to know those girls and let them get to know me and see what we can get done.”

Jason Surlas, KCHS athletic director, labeled Ball “enthusiastic, he’s got a lot of energy. You can tell he’s got a passion for the game of basketball.”

Among Ball’s “very impressive coaching background” according to Surlas was his time working with UT Lady Vol head coach Pat Summit as a defensive specialist while a student at UT in the early- to mid-1990s.

“That’s something we liked about him also,” Surlas said, adding he’s a “likeable guy, positive role model” with a “fitness background.”

About his coaching skills, “It’s not like I’m trying to re-invent the wheel, I’ve just got to polish it up and make it shine,” Ball said during his presence at the Nike Championship Basketball Series Clinic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. April 20-22. “I really like the line-up of coaches.”

Those included Billy Donavon, head coach of two-time defending men’s Division I champion Florida, former Stanford men’s coach Mike Montgomery and Bobby Cremins, former Ga. Tech and current College of Charleston skipper.

Collectively, they conveyed one message that particularly stood out to Ball: “There’s a glaring lack of fundamentals for the game. … That’s what our job is as coaches, to teach the game through and through. They’re really stressing footwork and fundamentals.”

Dodgen said of Ball, “I’m sad to see him go, but I’m happy for him. I think he’ll do very well at Catholic High School. He’s very knowledgeable of the game.

“I expect my coaches to coach ... and he had a lot of responsibility,” Dodgen added, as Ball worked especially close with guards “because he was a guard” at FHS.

A 1996 UT graduate with a degree in sports management, Ball labeled Dodgen “a great friend and a great person to learn from, he’s been in the business for thirty-five years. I’ve taken a lot of things from him.

“He’s let me coach basketball.”

A business teacher at FHS and West high schools, Ball is also a physical education and health teacher.

Ball is a former personal trainer at Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center, and assumed the role of strength and conditioning coach for Dodgen’s troops at FHS.

“I have that background of strength and conditioning training, and I really think it’s going to bring a mental edge and bring a different arena to girls basketball at Catholic,” Ball said. “I’m excited about that opportunity.”


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