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HVA Dodgen matches FHS Dodgen
Brianne Dodgen, college standout player, daughter of Ad boys hoop coach, comes ‘home’ as Hawks assistant

As an All-state basketball player at Sevier County High School, Brianne Dodgen came to her father’s home turf, Farragut, with a monumental feat at stake in the late 1990s.

More than 10 years later, this highly accomplished high school and college hoop standout again will visit that same school where her father still coaches — now as a rival assistant hoops coach at new Hardin Valley Academy.

“One of the greatest moments for a dad and a mother — I got to see her score her 1,000th career point at Farragut High School against the Farragut girls,” said FHS boys varsity head basketball coach Donald Dodgen. “How neat is that? ... My first year at Farragut [1996-97].

“Her mom [Mary Ann] was keeping scorebook for Sevier County High School.”

Brianne, a college All-American and Southern Conference MVP as a senior at University of North Carolina Greensboro (2002) and assistant coach in 2007 for Class AAA champ Murfreesboro Riverdale, will be an assistant girls basketball coach at HVA.

A physical education/wellness teacher as her father, she also will be head coach of girls track and field. (Pair is pictured above)

Only four points from 1,000 career total points as a SCHS junior as her Bearettes headed to FHS in 1997, “It took me forever to get those four points,” she said. “When I finally settled down and got the four points scored, they rang the buzzer, he came out and gave me a ball, gave me a hug and a kiss and said, ‘congratulations.’

“His boys team was actually sitting in the stands cheering for me, and had posters and signs waiting for me to score that fourth point. That was really special considering we were rival schools.”

Coming back to the Knoxville area at HVA, “I’m really, really excited about going to Hardin Valley,” Brianne said. “It’s a great opportunity for me, to start out at a new school. Being closer to my family, that’s always a good thing, ’cause we’re a very, very close family.

“And the school seems like it’s going to be one of the top competitors in that area,” she added.

Donald added, “It’ll be nice to have her close around.”


“Evidently we’re a teaching and coaching family,” Donald said of Brianne; Mary Ann, a former coach and current teacher at Pigeon Forge Middle School; son, Michael, head coach of girls basketball and softball at Cannon County High School, and daughter, Whitney, a student at Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, N.C., also planning to teach.

“It’s kinda neat, it’s always an honor to have your children come along and try and follow in what you’re doing. It’s gratifying to see your children grow up and be successful,” Donald added.

A 6-foot-2 All-state post and Class AAA Tennessee Miss Basketball candidate at Sevier County High School (Class of 1998), Brianne helped lead the Bearettes to the Class AAA State Tournament while scoring more than 2,000 career point

From an early age, “I knew she was going to be a great athlete,” Donald said. “Very strong, basketball-wise very intelligent on the floor. She was just a competitor, I think she was the most competitive out of all [Dodgen children].

“She was so hard to defend. She’s hard-nosed. I’ve never seen her quit. A-A-U’s pretty doggone tough, and I’d watch her play against some of the bigger teams.”

Brianne also was an AAU All-American and Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association “Female Scholarship Athlete of the Year” in 1998.

At UNCG, Brianne also was three-time All-Southern Conference and second all-time in league career points scored.

During her sophomore season in the SC tourney, “I sat and watcher her score 33 points on a Friday night, come back on Saturday night and score 35 points, and come back on Sunday and score 25 points,” Donald said. “I think that was the three greatest games I’ve ever seen her play.” Not surprisingly, Brianne was named tourney MVP.

Brianne’s other coaching dues prior to Riverdale were paid assisting at UNCG and her father’s alma mater, Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens

As for Brianne and her father, “We’ll call each other and we’ll ask each other’s advice for certain defenses or offenses,” she said, adding that coach Michael Dodgen also gets into the loop. “We’ll send each other plays over the years to see if something will work that we do that maybe they can try.

“Whenever we’re at home we’re always talking about basketball,” she added. “Always talking about different strategies.”

Lots of mileage went into her success.

“My wife would drive her to places, A-A-U tournaments during the summer, we’d travel from Indiana to Georgia to North Carolina, South Carolina,” Donald said. “And we would play outside. My wife would rebound and throw it back to her.

“I’d always take her with me when I’d go to a lot of camps,” Donald added. “She’d be a little girl out there playing with the older boys.

“I’d teach her how to pivot and how to shoot. I guess she was seven, eight years old.”

Brianne added, “My parents really didn’t ever pressure us to play a certain sport. They allowed us to pick whichever one we wanted to do.

But there was a burnout period.

“At first I really didn’t want to be a basketball player because I was around it so much … in it 24-seven,” Brianne said about a period in her elementary school years.

“When I really decided that I wanted to play, I went to [dad] and asked him for extra help,” she added. “That’s when I started to really focus on it.

“He would take me, along with my older brother, and we would be in the gym. I would go with him to his practices while I was in middle school, then after his practices were over we would stay an hour or two after practice and shoot. And he would just work with us.”

As for becoming tough, “I had an older brother who treated me just like a boy, beat me up and we played rough,” Brianne said of Michael, a former standout point guard under his father’s coaching at Gatlinburg-Pittman in the mid-1990s.

“Our kids have always played against older kids, and I did that growing up,” said Donald, a high school All-American at Gatlinburg-Pittman in the late 1960s whose talents were courted by legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp before his standout college success at Tennessee Wesleyan. “I used to play against U-T players when I was in high school. Now they made me better.

Also, “They would go play horse, they would shoot, we’d play a little competition, we’d shoot free throws against each other,” Donald said.

“But I’d never let ’em beat my dad,” the FHS coach added. “Their dad would always beat ’em, I’ll tell yah that right now.

“I play to win, and it rubbed off on them.”

Brianne said, “He didn’t let us win, and that’s one thing that I think helped. I can remember one time that I actually beat my dad in a game of horse.

“And I was so excited that I beat him,” Brianne added. “As soon as we got home I ran in and told my mom.

“Even now he can still beat me or beat my brother in a game of horse. It’s still a competition.”

About mom, “Though she didn’t really teach us that much about basketball, she always taught us to be tough competitors,” Brianne said. “If we didn’t want to get beat we had to go out there and lay it on the line and do whatever we had to do to get it done.

“She didn’t raise us as babies, it was a lot of tough love,” she added.

Brianne, 27, said her ultimate goal is to become a head coach.

However, “I don’t have a set time when it comes,” she said. “When the time is right I’ll find that position.

“I want to be able to build a program and kinda go back and build a program to what basketball used to be,” the HVA coach added. “The fundamentals of the game and teaching kids actually how to play and not just solely focus on scoring.”


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