Bulldog coach found within school’s walls

Bulldog coach found within school’s walls

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 12:00 pm

By RANDY CAVIN
Press Sports
Gleason has chosen to stay in-house with the high school boys’ basketball head coaching job.
Gleason athletic director Lee Lawrence decided to give Chris Leo, the boys’ junior high head coach, an opportunity to be the head coach of the Bulldogs.
Leo is no stranger to the Bulldogs’ basketball program. He has been the Bulldogs’ assistant coach the past two years and has worked for Joel Ayers, the Lady Bulldogs’ head coach, for three seasons. Leo has been the head coach of the junior high team for two seasons.
Jamie Roney stepped down as head coach after two seasons to concentrate on his family. Roney resigned as head coach shortly after the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. Lawrence said decisions like hiring a new head coach take time with so many schools making coaching and teaching changes.
“Obviously, with coach Roney stepping down not long after the conclusion of the season, we wanted to wait and give ourselves some distance before making any decisions,” Lawrence said. “Every school also has to see how things will play out with teaching positions from year to year, so part of the process was to solidify our academics first and go from there.”

It was an easy choice for Lawrence with Leo available and familiar with the program. He says Leo is more than ready for the challenge ahead of him.
“Chris has coached the junior high the past two seasons and was one of my assistants during my last year of coaching,” Lawrence said. “He is familiar with both programs and our expectations. Additionally, he has always looked for ways to get better as a teacher and coach. He understands the challenges of coaching at a small school and wanted the challenge of developing our young players throughout the process.”
For Lawrence, it is not completely about wins and losses. It is mostly about building character as individuals and succeeding in life. He feels if players have the right character and work ethic on the court, it will translate to having good character and a strong work ethic in their future.
“We are more concerned with building character and work ethic with our young men rather than focusing only on the win/loss column,” he said. “If you don’t have character and worth ethic, you’re not going to be a winner on the court anyway, nor will that translate to life. I know Chris wants to instill these values in our players, and we’re excited to see him get started.”
Leo shares much of the same sentiment that Lawrence does when it comes to coaching and teaching the players on the basketball court. He believes it all starts with attitude, and he plans to change the attitude the players have to one where they expect to compete on a nightly basis.
“I have spent a lot of time with coach Ayers and the girls’ teams, and coach Ayers always preaches attitude and effort,” Leo said. “It all starts with attitude and effort. The first things we have to change are their attitudes and effort. I’m not saying our boys have bad attitudes or put forth no effort, but traditionally the boys have been toward the bottom of the district standings, and that is what they have come to expect. My goal is for them to get out of the losing mindset and to go into each game expecting to compete.”
Leo believes he has to get the players to win a few games before he can translate anything into success, and he realizes it is going to take some time before that success comes into play.
“We have to believe we can get on track to winning before we will see success,” Leo said. “It will be a long road to get there, but I believe we have a great group of boys coming up who want to compete and are willing to work hard to achieve success.”
Leo, originally from Palmersville, graduated from Dresden High School and played two years for Chuck West. He is a 2008 graduate from UT Martin with a degree in education studies. He is in his third year of teaching history at both the middle and high schools.

Published in The WCP 5.14.13

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