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Smith takes over Volunteer girls hoops

Jeff Birchfield • Jul 30, 2018 at 8:22 PM

Former Virginia High assistant coach Tyrone Smith was named Volunteer’s girls basketball coach on Monday.

Smith replaces Tracy Cloninger, who resigned at the end of the school year to be closer to her Hamblen County home.

Smith, who lives in Rogersville, played at Garfield Senior in Woodbridge, Va., and Potomac State (W.Va.) Junior College prior to Virginia Intermont. He has six years of coaching experience in high school basketball in Virginia and has coached teams from grades 4-11 on the NYBL (National Youth Basketball League) and NCAA circuits.

Smith brings a lot of enthusiasm to the job, feeling the Lady Falcons are well suited to improve on last season’s 8-23 campaign. Volunteer graduated just one senior and returns point guard Bryna Minton, as well as other standouts like Allie Parsons, Kennedy Knittel, Chloe Salyer and Atlee Dean.

“I feel we can make some big noise in the Big 7 (Conference) and are looking for big things this season,” Smith said. “We’re not going to rebuild. I hate that word ‘rebuild.’ We’re going to build on to what we have and make it really successful.”

Said Volunteer athletic director Jim Whalen: “Tyrone Smith brings an energetic, positive and exciting personality to Volunteer High School. He is an outstanding teacher of the game. Tyrone lives and breathes basketball and strives to constantly add knowledge to his already sound basketball background. I am excited to watch the process and progress of our girls basketball program.”

Smith is the co-founder of Xplosion, an AAU youth community team. He has worked with “Rare Skills and Drills,” an elite basketball training academy with players of all ages, including those at the professional level.

He was an assistant to former VI coach Kevin Timmons the last five seasons at Virginia High. Under their leadership, the Lady Bearcats went from winning two games during the 2015-16 season to reaching the VHSL final four last season. He also served on David Crockett boys coach John Good’s staff during the summer.

“Coach Timmons and Coach Good have been big influences in my life,” Smith said. “I liked their coaching style, fast-paced, run and gun-type of game, 94 feet-type of press. That’s the type of game I want to bring to Volunteer.”

Assistant coach Caroline Laek, who led the Lady Falcons program during the summer, will continue in that role under Smith.

“Coach Smith’s knowledge of the game was impressive,” said Bobby Wines, Volunteer’s principal. “He knew our players and players throughout the area. He asked tough questions during the interview, which included game situations, strategies, practice design, growth of the program, expectations, and his ability to promote our players for opportunities at the next level.

“Coach Smith is well versed and prepared,” Wines added. “He is young but knows the game and how to teach it.”

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