SERIES: Sutton Shirley, Chestatee High Girls’ Basketball Coach, brings a personal touch to the program her father started 20 years ago.

A daytime math teacher, Shirley helps students who need extra help. He is able to teach students in small groups, with funding from the CARES Act: Government Funded Assistance Provided, Due to the Lasting Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

However, most people know Shirley for her generous energy on the sidelines, often coming to life with players and officials.

But Shirley takes a thoughtful approach to coaching, in order to maximize the potential of her roster.

During the day, the Lady War Eagles coach intends to forge a close relationship with his 10 varsity players, which includes attending their other sporting events during the school year.

“They are able to live with my ardor because of the relationships I build with them off the pitch,” said Shirley.

The eighth-year coach said Chestatee’s success is a direct result of a benevolent administration, which includes athletic director Matt Stowers and director Christy Cantrell.

A proactive administration provided the Chestatee basketball program with refurbished facilities, including a giant high-definition scoreboard.

“I feel like we have as good a facility as anyone in Northeast Georgia,” said Shirley.

Right now, Shirley is putting the finishing touches on her squad’s preparation for the action-packed Lanierland: a group rich in college experience, but relatively inexperienced in the atmosphere of playing in front of a crowded gymnasium at the annual tournament. county championship.

Last year, players experienced a modified Lanierland with limited crowds, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, those restrictions have been removed and it should be a full house for the three-day event, starting with the first-round matches which take place all day Tuesday at Lakeview Academy.

Currently, Chestatee (8-2) is punctuated offensively by sophomore Riley Black, who averages 18 points and eight rebounds per night.

Senior Riley Allison is in his first season with the Lady War Eagles, averaging nearly 10 points per game. She moved from Union County when her father, Brian Allison, took up the post of head football coach at nearby East Forsyth.

Senior Bowen Corley is the most experienced player on the pitch for Chestatee and continues to be very productive, while rookie Addison Boyd has strengthened and played exceptionally well as a point guard, said Shirley.

In her locker room, Shirley keeps the only Lanierland Trophy in the 2012 program prominently displayed for all the girls to see every day.

For Shirley, who also grew up in Hall County, it feels like Lanierland is special, bordering on the sacred.

“I get emotional when I talk about Lanierland,” said Shirley. “Everyone who is there (for the games) has a connection to the players or one of the schools.”

“It’s something that won’t hit them until they run across the floor at noon next Tuesday at Lakeview Academy.”

Even though Shirley grew up with a basketball in her hands and bouncing from gym to gym during her father’s long coaching career, training was never her plan, when he was. young, for a future career.

While still in school, Shirley contemplated a career in sports journalism.

Then, in 2010, Shirley started doing substitute teaching and began to feel the need to give coaching and teaching a boost.

When she obtained her certification to teach, Shirley worked during the 2010-2011 school year at Chestatee, where he participated in many activities including track and field.

The first four years of her career were spent as an assistant coach to Justin Wheeler with the East Hall women’s program.

Then, in the summer of 2018, he landed the job at Chestatee, his first head coaching job.

In fourth grade with school, this is a place Shirley said he could see himself staying for a long time.

Even though her schedule is busy, Shirley is happy.

Coaching football was never part of Shirley’s plan, but he learned a lot about working with teenagers from Conley.

“One thing he preaches is, ‘it’s our job to love children, and it’s their job to love each other,” Shirley said.

In addition to coaching and teaching, Shirley said he enjoyed spending time with his elementary-age niece and nephew and watching them go about their activities.

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