Gill steps down as head coach

Former Lady Eagle head basketball coach Darvin Gill is pictured above during Rhea County’s trip to Cookville on Jan. 25. Gilll stepped down from his position on Thursday.

Rhea County High School will have a new Lady Eagle basketball coach next winter. School officials confirmed this week third-year coach Darvin Gill will not return next season after wrapping up a 16-15 mark last Friday in the Region 3-AAA quarterfinals.

Rhea County principal Jesse Messimer confirmed the coaching change to The Herald-News on Thursday afternoon.

 “We appreciate what Coach Gill has done for our program the last three years and we wish him the best moving forward,” Messimer said.

Gill arrived in Evensville in June of 2016 filling a vacancy left behind by Steve Williams who returned to Florida for the Crestview High School head job after a just one season (15-15) in Rhea County.

Prior to the Rhea County job, Gill was an assistant at White County and Woodbury under Warriorette head coach Michael Dodgen.

Through his three-year tenure, Gill led the Lady Eagles to an overall record of 57-32. Most notably, Rhea went 25-7 during the 2017-18 season before losing in the Region 3-AAA semifinals to State semifinalist Bradley Central. Last year, he was named the District 6-AAA Coach of the Year.

The Herald-News spoke with Gill Friday afternoon who confirmed he officially stepped down from his coaching duties on Thursday. Gill said that he and the administration mutually agreed to part ways.

“We recently met and agreed that it would be best to go our separate ways moving forward. I’m thankful for the opportunity and support from the RCHS administration the last three years,” Gill said.

The now former Lady Eagle head coach posted winning records in each of his three seasons and carried Rhea County’s ladies to the Region tournament the last two seasons. He said he was grateful for the experience and his time in Evensville and will continue his classroom duties until the end of the school year.

“I’ve been blessed with a great administration and great group of players. I love my team and felt that I did my best for Rhea County High School to bring a culture change and move the program in the right direction,” Gill said.

Left behind for the new coach is a very favorable inheritance that will presumably not lose a single player heading into next winter. Leading the way will be back-to-back District 6-AAA player of the year Mallory Hampton. Haley Cameron, Maddie Smith and Maddie Taylor will join her in the senior class. Additionally, rising sophomore Emma Gentry and rising junior Macy Welch will resume key roles in the 2019-20 season.

RCHS Athletic Director Jeremy Fitzgerald said the school hasn’t set a timeline on announcing a new coach and wants to be sure to make the best decision for program.

“Coach Gill and I have become good friends both on and off the court the past few years. His teams have been fun to watch and he’s lead us to the region tournament the past two years,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s always tough to lose a coach and it has been a pleasure to work with him. We wish him well as he moves on to explore other opportunities.”

Fitzgerald added that Gill is one of the hardest working coaches he’s ever been around and has shown true commitment in preparing his team putting in countless hours of work and game prep.

With the girl’s prep basketball season hitting the home stretch of regional and the State tournaments, Rhea County intends on exercising patience to examine all possible options in the coming weeks before naming Gill’s successor.

“We have a strong senior class set for next year to lead us and our girls will be our number one priority from day one. We will work hard to make sure we hire someone that is a good fit for our players and wants to be at Rhea County,” Fitzgerald said.

Christopher Hall can be reached at christopher.hall@rheaheraldnews.com