Nate Valentine, the new boys' basketball coach at Lexington Christian Academy, has a heartfelt connection to his new school.
Valentine, who played at Transylvania and has been an assistant there the last nine years, said LCA reminds him of his alma mater.
"This place is very similar to Transylvania," he said. "It not only has a great basketball foundation, it also offers great academics.
"There are a lot of great people here, it's in Lexington, a big basketball city, and it has a passionate fan base."
Valentine, 31, succeeds Brad Carter, who is leaving LCA to become athletic director at Lexington Catholic.
Valentine played high school basketball at South Laurel under Steve Wright.
Wright said Valentine showed a bent toward coaching even as a high school player.
"He always had the mentality and ability to motivate other players. And besides knowing where he was supposed to be on the floor, he knew where everybody else was supposed to be.
"I think he'll be a star in this profession. This is his big break, and he deserves it."
Brian Lane, who recruited Valentine to Transy and then took him on as his assistant, also gave him high marks.
"Nate has an unbelievable rapport with the players," Lane said. "He's really good at player development, too, and he's outstanding at team preparation."
Valentine said relating and communicating with players is a key to his coaching.
"Coach Lane pointed it out to me early, that it's not your job to be mad at your players, it's your job to help them. It doesn't help to let them leave the gym upset."
"The biggest thing is, you're in this together. When you're playing in the district tournament, it's you and the 15 guys on the bench. Nobody else can score a bucket for you. Nobody in the stands, nobody in the administration.
"That's why you've got to have good rapport with your guys."
LCA will have high expectations in Valentine's first year. The Eagles return most of their top players from last season, including 6-foot-5 Matt Rose and 6-7 Drew Trimble.
"I know this is a very difficult district and a very tough region," Valentine said. "But if you have a team good enough to get through it, you have a chance to win it all."
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.