A.D. Tucker says search for new Lady Jumpers basketball coach will begin immediately
By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent Commonwealth Journal
“I was stunned.”
That’s how Somerset head girl’s basketball coach Erin Walker summed things up after she was allegedly told in a meeting on Tuesday with Somerset High School Principal Wes Cornett that her contract was not being renewed next year to continue her role as the Lady Jumpers head basketball coach.
“When he (Cornett) told me they were not going to renew my contract — I was sitting there and had a notebook opened, and then I closed it — it just fell to the floor,” stated Walker.
“I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’ — I did not expect it at all,” she added. “There was no reason for me to expect it. I’m thinking we’ve done something that hadn’t been done in 12 years here. We’ve had great success. If you look at the teams that we played this year, and the teams that won the region or finished as region runner-up, those are teams that barely beat us.”
Walker just concluded her second season on the bench at Somerset, and while the won-loss record was indeed below the .500 mark, the Lady Jumpers did enjoy at least a taste of postseason success under her leadership.
In her first year at Somerset — the 2012-13 season — Somerset managed a 13-18 won-loss mark, but one of those wins was against perennial power Rockcastle County in the first round of the Girl’s 47th District Tournament.
That win sent Somerset to the Girl’s 12th Regional Tournament as a district runner-up for the first time since way back in the 2002-03 season.
This past year, Somerset finished the season with a 14-15 mark, but the year did have its bright moments as well.
The Lady Jumpers finished tied with Casey County as the district’s top seed with a 4-2 mark, and one of those wins early in the year was over the Lady Rebels, helping Somerset break a 10-game losing streak to Casey County.
After defeating arch-rival Pulaski County in the opening round of this year’s district tournament, Somerset suffered a 60-40 setback to those same Lady Rebels in the championship game of the tourney, and then fell to Southwestern in the opening round of the regional tournament by a 59-43 margin.
However, the past two seasons with Walker at the helm marked the first time Somerset had been to the 12th Region Tournament in back-to-back years since the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
According to Somerset Athletic Director Bob Tucker, the decision not to retain Walker as the head coach of the Lady Jumpers for next season was not just about wins and losses or postseason appearances.
“We wish Erin nothing but the best of luck in her future, and I do believe she’s a very good young coach,” stated Tucker.
“For us right now, we really needed someone to control the whole program — that’s jayvee, freshmen, middle school, all the way down to the elementary school level,” continued Tucker. “It’s very important for us right now to have the entire package, and have a person in the job that is the face of the entire program. For where we are right now, this is going to be a very important hire for us.”
Tucker says that a search for Walker’s replacement will begin immediately, especially since teams are already gearing up for summer basketball activities — team camps, games, etc. — as soon as the school year ends.
“We’ve already had people call about the job, but we’ll have to see what positions are available teaching-wise,” said Tucker.
“We’ll for sure start advertising the opening almost immediately,” added the Somerset athletic director.
As for Walker herself, she’s not sure what the future holds for her, but she would like to land back on her feet as a head coach somewhere.
“I’m still kind of in shock over this decision,” admitted Walker.
“I always said that I would know if I had been successful as a coach if I only made a difference in just one person’s life,” Walker remarked. “Yesterday, I had parents call me, text me, and come see me in person telling me how much I had changed their daughter’s lives. That’s the reason I coach. It’s not just about basketball and teaching X’s and O’s. It’s because I want to make a difference in my player’s lives. Basketball is more than just basketball — it’s about life, and that’s the whole reason I went into coaching in the first place.”
When contacted about the Somerset head coaching vacancy with the girl’s basketball program, Somerset Superintendent Boyd Randolph stated, “No personnel decisions have been made.”