Howard happy to be back in LaGrange
Published 3:25 pm Wednesday, June 6, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
She’s happy to be back in LaGrange.
For two years, Bethany Howard was a basketball player for the LaGrange College women’s team, and she graduated in 2016.
After spending a year as a match teacher at Pike Road School in Alabama, Howard has returned to LaGrange.
Howard will be the head girls’ basketball coach at LaGrange Academy, and she’ll also be a math teacher.
Howard, who has had her sights set on a career in coaching since she was in middle school, believes she’s right where she’s supposed to be.
“I like working with kids,” Howard said. “I do want to maybe get into the collegiate level one day. Right now, this is my calling.”
Howard, who went to high school at Opelika (Ala.), spent her first two years of college at Butler Community College, and she enjoyed tremendous success there while playing the point-guard position.
Her teams reached the semifinals of the national tournament one year, and the quarterfinals the following season.
Howard then transferred to LaGrange College, and she was a member of the team during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons.
Following her senior season, Howard was her team’s representative on the USA South all-sportsmanship team.
While Howard enjoyed her time as a player, she knew that her future wasn’t on the court, but on the bench as a coach.
“I knew around the seventh grade I wanted to teach. I was real good at math,” Howard said. “So that’s when I was introduced to basketball on a legit team. People were asking me questions in practice, how do I do this, how do I do that.”
When Howard began high school at Opelika, her training as a future coach intensified.
“My ninth-grade year, my coach was allowing me to come to practice early and watch film, and that kind of made my mind up,” she said.
Howard said she learned a lot during her time at LaGrange College while playing for head coach Lee Buchanan, and the two developed a close relationship.
“He was my mentor,” Howard said. “He’s right down the street when I need somebody to talk to. It’s a great feeling.”
Howard can also lean on former teammate and good friend Kelsey Walthall when she needs to.
Walthall, who also played at LaGrange College, is an assistant basketball coach at LaGrange High.
“Kelsey’s my best friend,” Howard said. “She’s excited about this.”
While speaking to some of her new players during an introductory get-together last week, Howard’s message was that “I’m a very hard worker.”
“I’m looking to have fun with you ladies,” she added. “I’ll see what you know, see what you don’t know, and see if we can improve. I love winning, but I also have fun doing it.”
Howard takes over a team that made it to the GISA state tournament last season.
Most of the key players from that team return, including Kelsey Cotton, who was the leading scorer as an eighth-grader.