RACINE, Ohio — Time wasn’t going to make David Kight’s coaching itch go away.
In fact, the only remedy was returning to a basketball bench.
Now, as of Monday evening, Kight is officially the new girls basketball head coach at Southern — as he ends a three-year hiatus away from the game.
Kight replaces Kent Wolfe, who led the Lady Tornadoes for three seasons — before accepting an offer to become boys basketball head coach at South Gallia.
“To be afforded the opportunity to come here and coach the girls program at Southern, I am extremely thankful,” said Kight, in an interview at SHS on Tuesday.
Kight continued by explaining that he missed coaching basketball — and was ready to re-enter the fray.
“The first year you are out of coaching, you miss it. The second year, the itch to get back into it either goes away or it increases. Each year for me, it’s increased a little bit more and I would be around the gym a little bit more. Just got the itch to get back into it,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed my time away from the grind and the hours you put in and everything that goes into coaching. But I am ready to get back into that grind after three years.”
In all, Kight’s coaching tenure spans almost two full decades.
A 1994 graduate of Jackson High School, he spent 11 years in the boys program at his alma mater — either at the junior high or junior varsity level, before becoming a varsity assistant for four years to Dustin Ford.
Kight then spent another four years with Western’s boys, including his final two as head coach.
He then moved on to Meigs, coaching the Marauder men in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 campaigns — and winning a Division III sectional championship in his first year.
He has coached girls in both softball and track and field, but Southern will be his initial stint for basketball —as he will continue to teach at Meigs.
Kight discussed the primary differences between boys and girls basketball being speed and strength.
Otherwise, players still have to defend, dribble, rebound, pass and make shots.
“Speed and strength are different, but it’s boys against boys and girls against girls, so that equals itself out one way or the other. The game isn’t any different, though. Nothing is going to change in the game, and I’m still going to teach and coach things the same way,” said Kight. “I’ve never looked at it as here’s the boys workout and here’s the girls workout. It was ‘here’s the workout’. Instead of dividing it by boy or girl, you are coaching athletes. It’s still the game of basketball. That’s the approach I want to take with it and hopefully it pans out.”
Kight wasn’t officially hired until Monday’s meeting of the Southern Local Schools Board of Education, so he was planning on meeting with some prospective players for next season by Friday.
In addition, he intends to use most of — if not all of — the 10 Ohio High School Athletic Association-allotted summer practice days in July.
Most programs have their summer workouts completed by June 30, but Kight was under the impression that the Lady Tornadoes had not been involved in any regular activity throughout June.
“Not that I’m aware of,” he said. “To my knowledge, nobody has opened the gym up to let them in or anything like that. At least now until the down period, we need to get them in the gym. If nothing else, just to get shots up so they can get used to me and my personality and how I want to run things. I need to see the different skill levels and athletic abilities to get a plan and a direction for the regular season. Coach (Kent) Wolfe has been a real big help, letting me know the returning roster and who is coming up and names of kids who I should get in contact with. That’s kids that played last year or potential kids that want to play. I plan to do that this week. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I can get some kids in the gym and get names and faces, and get to know each other. We have a small limited window now before the (OHSAA mandatory) down period hits.”
That OHSAA “dead period” for basketball is in August, as the Lady Tornadoes begin mandatory volleyball and cross country practice on Aug. 1.
Mandatory girls basketball practice commences at the end of October.
Once it does, expect the smaller and guard-oriented Lady Tornadoes to at least play “a grinding hard-nosed defense”.
“We’re going to play 95-percent man-to-man defense. It’s a physical hard-nosed man-to-man, not something that’s laid back and real relaxed,” said the coach. “The ideal thing is to pressure half-court, and if we have the ability and quickness and depth to pressure full-court, we will. Offensively, I have to see them in the gym to get a direction as to whether we will play fast and create offense or play slow and methodical. In high school, you have to adapt your system around the personnel.”
For Kight, though, making these plans has been three years in the making.
Indeed, only a return to the bench was going to take away his coaching itch.
“Being out of it three years, I’ve got those old chills back again now,” he said. “When you’re coaching and planning stuff for the summer and getting things ready for the season, those old feelings come back and your engine gets revved up again. I’m excited for the opportunity. I really am looking forward to it and we’re going to take advantage of it.”
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106