Tullahoma will have a two-time State Title winner and a 2014 National Champion leading its girls’ basketball program, as Chad Hibdon was introduced Tuesday as the new head coach of the Lady Wildcats.
“My family and I are really excited to be a part of the Tullahoma community,” Hibdon said. “We are a family of faith, so we’ve been praying about what’s next for us as a family. After conversations with numerous people, you could see the vision, energy and excitement that Tullahoma High School and the community have for girls basketball. Tullahoma is a place where we as a family feel like we can come in and serve, celebrate the program’s history, and add a new chapter to the story while also pouring into the community. What drew us to Tullahoma was the community because that is what is important to us as a family. Family, community, education and support were the key important factors we were looking for, and that’s what Tullahoma will provide us.”
Hibdon last coached at the high-school level in 2015, when he led Blackman to its second-consecutive Class AAA State Title after finishing that season with a 32-2 mark. In 2014, the Lady Blaze captured their first state championship and were crowned National Champions by ESPN, USA Today and MaxPreps after concluding the year with a 34-1 record. In his 10 seasons at Blackman, Hibdon led the Lady Blaze to a 199-98 record.
While his teams had success on the court at Blackman, Hibdon also received several individual accolades. In 2014, Hidon was awarded the USA Today National Coach of the Year and the Naismith All-USA National Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. He was then named a finalist for the Naismith Award in 2015. That same year, he was additionally selected as the Women’s Basketball National Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association, the first Tennessee coach to capture the award. The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) awarded Hibdon the 2015 District 9 Coach of the Year. He was also named a finalist for the 2015 Pat Summitt Trophy, an honor that the WBCA gives to the United States Marine Corps and WBCA High School National Coach of the Year.
“While we had several impressive candidates, Chad Hibdon was the coach who checked every box on our list,” said THS Principal Jason Quick. “While his record and reputation speak for themselves, it was the remarkable character and integrity he displayed during our interviews and conversations that solidified why he is the right man for the job. His passion for young people and commitment to making a positive impact on their lives is parallel to the same mission held by THS shareholders. I am excited for the future of our girl’s program under Chad’s leadership, and I am confident he and his family will be a valuable addition to the community of Tullahoma.”
Hibdon’s hiring comes after former Tullahoma coach Cody McMurtry resigned from his position in late December. Dale Alsup coached the Lady Wildcats for the remainder of the 2021-2022 season. Tullahoma concluded the year with a 16-11 record, going 7-3 against district opponents. After losing in the District 8-AAA semifinals, the Lady Wildcats’ season ended with a 44-36 loss at Upperman during the Region 4-AAA Tournament in February.
“I cannot thank Dale Alsup enough for stepping in and leading our Lady Wildcats during the final stretch of last season. I am beyond excited to welcome Chad Hibdon to Tullahoma City Schools,” said TCS Director of Schools, Dr. Catherine Stephens. “Coach Hibdon brings an impressive resume to THS, and we are thrilled that he, his wife Lea, his son Eli and daughter Lydia Grace, have decided to call Tullahoma home. I have known Chad for many years as a graduate student and as a coach, whom our daughter competed against when playing high school basketball. He is a great man and coach, and I’m pleased he is joining the TCS family.”
After Blackman, Hibdon coached at the collegiate level, taking over the helm of the Truett-McConnell University’s women’s program in 2015. He then returned to Tennessee in 2016, as he was named the women’s head coach at Trevecca Nazarene University before resigning this past March.
“Getting back into high school teaching and coaching was the next goal,” Hibdon said. “This level is where we found success in years past and where we felt the most connected to the program and community. Because we see the promise and the opportunity to be successful, that’s what drew us here to Tullahoma.”
During the search for a new coach, Quick and Athletic Director John Olive wanted to identify a candidate who could take Tullahoma’s performance on the court to the next level. With two state titles already under his belt, the pair believe that Hibdon was the ideal candidate in that regard.
“It took a lot of hard work and commitment and investment from everybody to win those state championships at Blackman,” Hibdon said. “You have to have driven young ladies who want more than average success. They have to understand that it’s a process and a progression to get to that level. It’s a recipe that takes a multitude of people, including the support from the families of our players, coaches, school administrators, the community and more. It doesn’t happen multiple times unless the roots are deep.”
While Quick and Olive sought a winner on the court, there were several additional characteristics that they were seeking in their coaching search. According to Quick, Hibdon possessed all of those qualities.
“We wanted a head coach who has a reputation for character and integrity, a proven track record of success in building a winning program both on and off the court,” Quick said. “We also were seeking someone who will be instrumental in developing our young ladies. We want our players to be well-rounded individuals and be prepared to be successful in life beyond basketball, modeling a commitment to excellence in all endeavors and demonstrating a strong sense of serving the community. These characteristics are what Coach Hibdon brings to Tullahoma, and I am so excited for our girls’ basketball program.”
According to Hibdon, he has four pillars for his approach to coaching: Give, grow, love and win.
“Giving is about sacrificing one’s self for something greater,” Hibdon said. “Growing is about that thirst and hunger for a player to want to get better each and every day. Love is about loving each other through the highs and lows, successes and failures and really embody that passion for the team, the school, Tullahoma and the game of basketball. Winning will be the byproduct of those other three pillars.”
While he undoubtedly wants to see his players succeed on the floor, Hibdon also wants his athletes to thrive as individuals. He wants his team to consist of high academic achievers and leaders inside the classroom, school and the community.
“Those are things that we want to embrace, encourage and promote. We want to let that translate to the basketball court and become leaders. There is no better way to lead than with your effort and togetherness. We also want to be tough, be disciplined and detailed, but we also want to have fun. It’s all about enjoying the game that we love. In order to achieve success, there has to be work. There is no easy path, and there has to be that commitment to work.”