County Lady Raiders Stewart
attains coachs dream
BEDFORD, Ky. (March 2006) Kerrie Stewart had
always dreamed of playing in a state basketball tournament game but
never got the chance. But in February, Stewart did one better: She coached
her own varsity squad at the Kentucky Class A tournament in Richmond,
by Don Ward
Trimble County girls basketball team, led by coach Kerrie Stewart,
took the title at Kentucky Class A Regionals in Eminence.
For the Trimble County High School girls head coach
of five years, it was a dream come true. Whats more, the Lady
Raiders won their first game 55-43 over Danville, putting Stewarts
team in the record books as the only Trimble County team to win a state
tournament game. The team lost its second-round match 64-33 to Monroe
County, but with what seemed like having the entire county in the stands
cheering them on, the Lady Raiders returned home champions, anyway,
to their fans.
It was definitely the high point of my coaching career to date,
said Stewart, 38, who was quick to add that the season is not yet over.
We still want to win the regional and go to state (in March).
The Class A tournament pits together schools of equal size, while the
season-ending larger statewide tournament is a competition among all
schools. Libby Thokes basket with four seconds remaining at the
Class A Regional finals in Eminence gave them a ticket to Richmond.
The Class A Regional trophy now sits inside the Lady Raiders locker
room as a reminder of what can happen.
We dont have any room in the trophy case for it, plus the
girls like to look at it, confided Stewart, who graduated from
the school in 1986.
Stewarts team won its final regular season game Feb. 21 over visiting
Henry County to give the Lady Raiders their first 20-win season since
Stewart took the reigns of the program in 2001-02. They finished the
year 20-7 plus going 1-1 at the Class A Tournament.
On Tuesday, Feb. 28, they were scheduled to travel to Buckner, Ky.,
to compete in the District Tournament. Just one victory there would
send them on to the regional in Shelby County. Trimble County was to
play host Oldham County in its first game. The winner would face the
South-North Oldham winner, with both the winner and runner-up at the
tournament advancing. Trimble County hasnt won that tournament
Despite all the excitement the mid-season Class A tournament created,
Stewart said her team has remained poised and committed to its goal
of going to statewide tournament, played in Bowling Green. She said
this years success actually began to form last summer in the offseason
during scrimmages and workouts against larger schools.
They really began to believe in themselves and to realize what
they could accomplish, Stewart said. Along with that came months
of hard work, conditioning and team cohesiveness.
Its been a good experience and an exciting ride, said
Thoke, a senior and considered one of the teams mainstays. We
all set our goals at the beginning of the season and we have worked
hard toward it. We also had a lot of community support, and we all pulled
together as a team.
As for her coach, Thoke described Stewart as a very
caring coach who tried to make it fun but at the same time executing
the basics to get the job done.
Stewart has spent nearly half her life in the Trimble County High School
gym. She played under junior varsity coach Leigh-Anna (Dunlap) Davis,
then under varsity coach J.T. Peniston. To-day, she credits both coaches
for instilling in her the drive and spirit to lead other players on
and off the court. You can learn lessons for life on that court,
and I have tried to do that, said Stewart, whose maiden name is
Upon graduation, she attended Western Kentucky University for one year
but returned home and later married Jamie Stewart.
She later earned her bachelors degree in education at Kentucky
State University in Frankfort while raising two children, Adam, an eighth-grader,
and Megan, a sophomore who plays for the Lady Raiders JV squad.
Other than her insistence for conditioning, she doesnt ascribe
to any one coaching philosophy, rather, she says, When you coach
at a small school, you have to change your coaching styles to suit the
type of players you have. So Ive coached all kinds of styles.
This year, she has a fast squad and some good shooters, so she uses
the edge her team has in conditioning to run and shoot. The squad is
dominated by five seniors Amanda Greiner, Emily Merrill, Faron
Egerton, Libby McKinney and Thoke, and three juniors Laci Shirmer,
Carollana Jennings and Jessie Caudill. Sophomore Ashleigh Miller has
replaced McKinney in the lineup after McKinney injured her ankle in
a non-sports related incident at a restaurant following the teams
last game in Richmond.
Any time you have that kind of success, its going to have
a positive effect on the whole program, and I dont think this
is going to be the end of it for several years down the road,
said Peniston, who led the Lady Raiders to the Class A tournament in
As for his coaching protege, Peniston said of Stewart, Kerrie
is the type of person who cares for her players, and I think thats
a big plus as far as any coach is concerned. She carries that through,
and they see that and know that. Yet, shes able to come down on
them when she has to, as any coach should.
Peniston called Stewart a student of the game who has done well in adjusting
to situations as her ballgames progressed. And he applauds her ability
to adjust her coaching style to fit the player talent she inherits each
year. At the high school level, you have to learn to adjust because
you cant go out and recruit the players you want, like in college,
Peniston recalled that as a player herself, Stewart was
always team-focused. And you see that has carried over into her
work as a coach shes not above the program; its
always about the team.
In addition to her players, Stewart credits her husband and children
for allowing her the time to spend in the gym and taking part in other
coaching-related activities, such as recruiting and hours spent watching
She cites one moment she wont forget this season when the regional
final game against Walton Verona was about to begin in Eminence, and
she thought her husband had to work that night and couldnt be
there. But just before the opening buzzer, she looked up in the stands
and saw him. I thought to myself, Were going to win
Stewarts father, Charles McCoy, suffers from a heart ailment and
could not attend the state tournament games, nor could her mother, Corliss,
who stayed with her husband. Stewarts two sisters, Laura McCoy
and Sabina McCoy Crumley, also were not able to go. So it was her immediate
family, both former coaches, Davis and Peniston, and the Trimble County
fan section that carried her through in Richmond.
This community was great, and what an opportunity it was for our
girls to play on that floor (in Richmond), she said. Little
kids were running around with Lady Raider signs and getting our players
to autograph them that will leave a huge mark on our players
for the rest of their lives.
Its already left a huge mark on Stewart, whose previous best season
record was 17-10 in her first year as head coach. This season
was definitely a coachs dream come true, she said.
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