Several coaching changes were approved at East Central Community College in Decatur following the June 12 meeting of the College’s Board of Trustees, announced ECCC President Dr. Phil A. Sutphin.
Scott Hill, who has served as fast-pitch softball head coach and director of intramurals since 2003, has stepped down to become a full-time faculty member at the College. Kristin Chaney, Hill’s assistant the past four years and one of his former players, was selected as his successor.
The Lady Warrior basketball program is also undergoing a change in leadership.
Bill Smith has retired to pursue other opportunities, which may possibly include coaching on a different level.
Hill, 43, is one of the most successful coaches at East Central. His overall record is 308-123-1 and includes the program’s first Region 23 Tournament title in 2010 and the first MACJC State Tournament championship in 2011.
The 2010 squad placed fourth in the NJCAA Division II National Women’s Softball Championship en route to a record 47 victories with just 11 losses and one tie. The same squad was recognized as the NJCAA Academic Softball Team of the Year by posting a 3.69 grade point average. Hill was named Region 23 Softball Coach of the Year following the successful campaign.
Hill’s 2011 team placed fifth in the national competition and finished 37-15. The talented squad also received NJCAA Softball Academic Team of the Year honors with another 3.69 grade point average. He received Region 23 Softball Coach of the Year honors in recognition of his team’s success.
Prior to capturing region and state titles, Hill’s teams reeled off three straight MACJC Central Division titles, when the league was divided into three areas of competition prior to the current setup of North and South divisions.
Hill has “mixed feelings” about stepping down, but said a desire to spend more time with his family was a main reason for the change.
“I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to coach softball here at East Central,” Hill said. “It has been a wonderful experience not only for me but for my family as well. I am sad because there is so much that I will miss, but having the chance to spend a little more time with my family is something I know I will cherish. I look forward to assuming this new role as fulltime instructor which will continue to give me the chance to help young people at a place that is so dear to me.”
Hill added, “I have had the great fortune to have had many fine young ladies to come through this program that definitely made it what it is today. I will always be so grateful for their many sacrifices on and off the field. It is very satisfying to see them start a career and a family….and know that we might have had some very small part in helping them along the way. I don’t hesitate to recognize the huge impact they have had on my life.”
Hill said he is “very pleased” that the Board of Trustees approved Chaney as his successor.
“It is reassuring to have someone the caliber of Kristin Chaney to step in and take over this program,” Hill stated. “In my nine years here as head softball coach, Coach Chaney has been with me for six of those years, two as a player and four as a coach. There is no way to measure just how important she has been to me and the Lady Warrior softball program. She is truly ready for this opportunity and I am so excited for her.”
Chaney, 26, who is recognized as the College’s only two-sport NJCAA All-American (softball/basketball), said following in Hill’s footsteps makes the opportunity to serve as Lady Diamond Warrior coach “even more special.”
“First and foremost, I want to thank Coach Hill for everything he has done for the softball program at East Central. He truly has bettered the program with the renovations to the field as well as bringing the first ever championship to the program. I would not be able to be in this position without him and will forever be grateful for everything he has done for this program as well as for me,” Chaney said.
The new Lady Diamond Warrior head coach said she looks forward to continuing the program’s success.
“I am excited to step in to this role as head coach,” she said. “I love East Central from the bottom of my heart. I will forever bleed black and gold. This is a special time for me and I cannot begin to express my excitement. I only hope to build on the rich tradition here.”
Prior to joining the ECCC staff in 2008, Chaney attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where she received master and bachelor’s degrees in sports administration. She was also a standout member of the Lady Eagle basketball team, receiving most valuable player honors following the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. In addition, she received the Female Student of the Year and Lady Eagle Award in 2006-07. She was also a member of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 Lady Eagle softball teams.
Chaney is a 2005 honor graduate of ECCC and a Hall of Fame member. In addition to receiving NJCAA All-American honors in softball and basketball, she was selected an NJCAA Academic All-American and finished second in the NJCAA Female Athlete of the Year competition.
She helped lead the 2004 and 2005 fast-pitch softball teams to MACJC Central Division championships en route to records of 26-14 and 34-5, respectively. Following the 2004 campaign, Chaney was one of only three freshmen and the only Mississippian selected second team NJCAA American. She received All-Region 23, MACJC All-State and MACJC All-Central Division honors following both seasons. In addition, she was selected the Lady Diamond Warriors’ most valuable player in 2004 and received most valuable offensive and most valuable defensive player awards in 2005.
Chaney is a product of Newton County High School.
Bill Smith began his employment at East Central in 2001 as men’s head basketball coach. He led the squad for four years and compiled an overall 42-66 mark, which included a berth in the MACJC and Region 23 tournaments in 2002-03.
Smith, 51, took over the Lady Warrior program in 2005 and reeled off six consecutive winning seasons, including a Region 23 championship in 2007-08 and a berth in the NJCAA Women’s Basketball Championship en route to a 22-8 record.
The past two seasons the Lady Warriors dipped to 8-15 records but the 2011-12 squad overcame a 0-11 start by winning eight of the following nine contests and finished the season as the South Division’s No. 4 seed with a 7-5 division mark. EC advanced to the MACJC State Basketball Tournament but fell to host Itawamba in first-round action.
His overall record as women’s head coach is 101-79.
“I’ve enjoyed my 11 years here,” Smith said. “I just felt like it was time to retire and pursue some other job opportunities. I really enjoyed my time here…both with the men’s and women’s teams. I’m looking forward to a new challenge and a new chapter in my life.”
Smith said the highlight of his tenure was the 2007-08 season, when the Lady Warriors captured the Region 23 championship and advanced to the national tournament.
“I thought that was a great accomplishment for a special group of girls,” Smith said of the championship season.
Smith came to East Central from Neshoba Central High School, where he successfully led the girls’ basketball program for 16 years. His teams posted an overall record of 388 wins and 151 losses, which include a state championship and six division titles.
The College is currently advertising for a new women’s head basketball coach.
Applications will be received by Athletic Director Chris Harris through Friday, June 29. The position opening announcement is available on the College Web site, www.eccc.edu.