Matt Yates, Tates Creek’s new girls’ basketball coach, has coached against the school’s new boys’ basketball coach, Jarrod Gay, though not in the usual capacity.
“I mean when he was a player and I was a coach,” Yates said with a laugh.
Yates, 49, was named to his position Monday, five days after Gay was named to his role. Both coaches take over programs that haven’t had much success over the last half decade.
It is the first high school head coaching job for Gay, a 29-year-old special education teacher at Tates Creek who played high school basketball at Henry Clay and Bryan Station before spending four seasons at Kentucky State. He joined the Thorobreds’ coaching staff as a graduate assistant to finish his master’s degree after an injury derailed his shot of playing professionally overseas.
“The call never came, so I said, ‘Why not give back coaching?” Gay said. “‘Don’t be selfish with your knowledge, why not give it back to people who need it and who are pursuing the same goals you had?’ And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”
Gay has assisted at Bryan Station and Henry Clay. He credits a lengthy list of coaches in his life — his father Mark Gay; former high school coaches Daniel Brown and Champ Ligon; AAU coaches Shirley Cunningham and Charlie Givens; Clarence Moore and Wade Houston, with whom he worked at KSU — for preparing him for his first foray into head coaching.
He wants to bring a winning mentality to Tates Creek, which has had six straight losing campaigns and has gone one-and-done in the postseason the last five years.
“This year I’m looking at it as, let’s just play as hard as we can. Let’s do everything we can do right but not worry about the scoreboard. Because the scoreboard will take care of itself if we do the things that we know we can do. And we can build on that as our foundation and hopefully in year two, three, four and so on, we can be state contenders and 11th Region contenders.”
A veteran in Central Kentucky coaching circles, Yates also started his career as a men’s assistant at KSU before assisting under Scott Chalk at Frankfort High School. That led to boys’ head coaching stints at West Jessamine (2001-2004), Model (2004-05), Danville (2007-2011) and Frankfort (2011-2013). He’s also been a men’s assistant at Union College.
Yates, who teaches health and physical education, had never coached girls until he joined Morton Middle School’s program as an assistant, a role he served for three years before head coaching the team last season.
“I would say the biggest thing to me is they just seem to listen better,” Yates said of coaching girls as opposed to boys. “There’s not as much ego there for girls as there is for boys.”
Tates Creek’s girls haven’t had a winning season since 2009-2010. The program went winless in 2013-14 and has won only 13 games in the three years since.
Yates believes he can spearhead a rebuild.
“You could probably check the record, every job I’ve ever taken has been like that,” Yates said. “West Jessamine was way down. Danville was way down. Model was down, but I didn’t stay there but one year. And Frankfort had just come off of a winning season but they were starting all over. So I’m kind of used to the challenge. Maybe the good Lord, that’s where he always leads me, to somebody that I feel like they need me somehow. …
“You might get your head beat in the first year trying to figure this thing out, but along the line you’re gonna get it figured out if you keep putting in the work and grinding every day.”
Tates Creek basketball: Last 10 seasons
Boys (final loss)
Girls (final loss)
2007-08: 14-14 (43rd District semifinals)
2007-08: 13-17 (43rd District first round)
2008-09: 14-12 (43rd District semifinals)
2008-09: 17-11 (43rd District first round)
2009-10: 21-7 (11th Region semifinals)
2009-10: 16-13 (11th Region first round
2010-11: 24-5 (11th Region semifinals)
2010-11: 10-20 (43rd District semifinals)
2011-12: 12-16 (43rd District semifinals)
2011-12: 13-17 (43rd District first round)
2012-13: 6-22 (43rd District first round)
2012-13: 10-18 (43rd District semifinals)
2013-14: 8-18 (43rd District first round)
2013-14: 0-30 (43rd District first round)
2014-15: 11-16 (43rd District first round)
2014-15: 4-24 (43rd District first round)
2015-16: 6-22 (43rd District first round)
2015-16: 3-26 (43rd District first round)
2016-17: 4-26 (43rd District first round)
2016-17: 6-25 (43rd District semifinals)