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Past OC star Roney finally headed to Union — as a coach

Past OC star Roney finally headed to Union — as a coach
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Mark Campbell finally got his girl.
After trying unsuccessfully twice to lure Jana Roney to the tradition-rich Union University women’s basketball program, the Lady Bulldog head coach has ultimately succeeded in adding the former Obion County Central star to his roster.
Roney, most-recently a standout at Bethel University, has agreed to become a graduate assistant coach at UU as the Jackson school embarks on a transition to the Division II ranks this fall.
A Miss Basketball finalist at OCCHS her junior season, a two-time Class 2A All-Stater and The Messenger’s Prep Player of the year in 2008, Roney was initially recruited by Campbell as high school senior.
She instead signed with Murray State, where she played sparingly for one season before electing to transfer closer to home following the death of her mother.
Again Campbell sought to make her part of a Union University family, but failed when Roney chose Bethel University in McKenzie instead. There she was a two-time All-TranSouth performer and second-team All-American at the conclusion of her senior season after averaging 19.6 points and seven rebounds per-game in 2011-12.
“They say the third time’s the charm, and I feel so blessed to have another opportunity to be a part of Coach Campbell’s staff and the Union family,” Roney told The Messenger Monday. “I’ve known him (Campbell) for several years now. I’m so fortunate that I’ll be able to learn from him from a basketball standpoint but, more importantly, be around a great Christian man with wonderful qualities and traits.”
Roney will work on her Master’s degree in education over the next two school years and joins a Union staff that also includes recent new-hire Kayla Hudson, a four-time All-American at the school who helped the Lady Bulldogs to their fourth and fifth NAIA national championships during her playing career. Hudson, a Gleason High School product, was a graduate assistant last season for Campbell.
The Union skipper, who’ll enter his 14th season at the school this fall, was the fastest women’s coach on any collegiate level to win 400 games. He sports a 434-51 record, with that .895 winning percentage the best in the nation among women’s coaches with at least five years of experience. The Lady Bulldogs will join the Gulf South Conference in the 2013-14 season.
Campbell reportedly lauded Roney’s toughness and said he expects her to fit nicely into the UU program.
Roney said she expects to work with players individually, help with recruiting and in the filmroom as part of her Lady Bulldog duties.
Jana, whose sister Jenna — also a Messenger POY in 2005 — played at Bethel, too, finished her Lady Wildcat career with more than 1,200 points and had 670 rebounds during that three-year span.  She shot 80 percent from the charity stripe and 47 percent from the floor, and said, “Bethel was just home and very good place for me. A lot of that was because my sister had played there and I knew a lot of people and was comfortable there.”
The former Lady Rebel standout, who led OC to four consecutive 20-win seasons during her prep playing days, is hopeful the Union experience helps determine her career path as to what level of the game she elects to coach when it’s time to decide between middle school, high school and college.
“I’ve been the assistant coach at McKenzie Middle the past three years, and I’ve worked with some high schools, too,” Roney said. “I believe I’ll have a good idea which level is the best fit for me after two years in this role.”
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 7.3.12

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