Gardner Newman promotes Sewell to head girls basketball coach

Published 8:20 am Saturday, August 12, 2023

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There is a changing of the guard for the Gardner Newman girls basketball program. Mackenzie Sewell will be heading the program after serving as an assistant coach a season ago.

“I knew the previous coach was stepping down and they knew that I wanted the positions when I joined as an assistant last year,” Sewell said. “It was a very mutual decision as they wanted me to continue to grow the program.”

The team is coming off a big season in which they won the league championship. Now, it is up to Sewell to sustain the level of success that the Mustangs have become accustomed to.

“Last year, I was behind the scenes, but this year I’m in charge of everything from scheduling, summer workouts, skill development,” Sewell said. “I want to get my voice out there while still continuing what I was a part of last season.”

Before arriving in Troup County, Sewell was a standout basketball player at Huntingdon College from 2013-17, finishing her career second in the program in three-pointers made as well as top 10 all-time in scoring. Sewell is now eager to translate her success as a player to her time as a head coach.

“I’ve coached some youth teams in Birmingham, but this will be my first time leading a program like this,” Sewell said. “It is a new challenge, but one I’m excited for.”

Sewell, formally a marketing consultant at Samford University, felt a calling to go back to school and get her master’s degree in teaching. She did just that as she felt a calling to mentor youth on and off the court. 

“I have played sports my whole life and have always been passionate about helping kids,” Sewell said. “Sports is my happy place. Teaching pays the bills, but coaching is something that I do for myself.”

Sewell has an extensive athletic background but always prioritized basketball over all others. 

“Growing up, I played volleyball, basketball and soccer before going on to play basketball at Huntingdon College,” Sewell said. “Basketball has always been my favorite, and I’ve known for a while that it is something that I want to continue to be around.”

Sewell had athletic ties to the community even before she took a position as assistant coach of the Mustangs. Her husband, Brandon, has been the head men’s lacrosse coach at LaGrange College since 2020. Watching her husband coach just reinforced her desire to get on the sidelines. 

Sewell’s responsibilities as coach will be in stark contrast to those of her husband’s. She will help introduce young players to a sport while her husband fine tunes college athletes.

“At this it is a lot about teaching them skills and teaching them the right way,” Sewell said. “You have to teach them about every little thing even if they have played before.”

With LaGrange High School ushering in a new head girls coach as well in the form of legendary Granger figure Mike Pauley. Sewell and Pauley plan to work together to make sure their programs are working in unison. 

“We want to build a strong program that really feeds into LaGrange (High) and can help build their program as well,” Sewell said. “We want to send as many kids up there ready to play as we can.”

The next step for Sewell: grow the program. The team finished last season with 11 athletes and lost seven of them. The team will be young and relatively inexperienced in 2023-34, but Sewell sees this as an opportunity to expand and grow the program.

“We are going to be really young this year, so we are continuing to try and build the program and generate more interest,” Sewell said. “We want to generate more interest not just within the school but within the community.

“I think it is really important to be connected with our elementary schools and high school as well.”