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Belgreen hires Odom for boys’ basketball

BELGREEN — Students, teachers and fans of Belgreen High School basketball have had a year to get used to the idea that finding a new head boys’ basketball coach was something that would soon have to be done.

Former head coach Greg Watson initially decided to resign his post in favor of another opportunity last summer, but that transition fell through.

Watson instead retained his incumbent position at Belgreen, but it likely came as no surprise when the successful head coach resigned a few weeks ago in order to take a head-coaching job at Crestview High School in Florida.

Watson had a great record at Belgreen, a small school, so naturally a coach of his caliber left to coach at a larger institution.

It did not take long, however, for the Franklin County School Board to find a new head boys’ basketball coach to replace the job Watson left vacant.

Patrick Odom, who has been at Shoals Christian School in Florence, will now be the boys’ varsity head coach for the Bulldogs.

“We posted the job a couple of weeks ago,” said Franklin County Superintendent Gary Williams.

“We got in contact with Coach Odom to see if he was interested.

“He went through a decision-making process, and probably Monday he agreed to take the job, and we’re tickled to have him.”

The board did not have to go far to find a new head coach, both figuratively and literally, as only about 37 miles separate the two schools.

“With him taking it the process wasn’t too lengthy, because he was contacted right at the beginning after we heard Coach Watson was leaving,” Williams said.

“His decision was pretty quick, so it wasn’t too bad. Coach Watson did do a good job, and we hate to see him leave it.

“Coach Odom will come in and do a great job. I’m confident of that. He’s such an outstanding person and a great coach, too.”

Coach Odom (who is first cousins with Jonathan Odom at Tharptown) is no stranger to this area, as his old stomping grounds are just a few miles outside of Franklin County.

“I graduated from Hackleburg in 1994,” Odom said.

“I played two years at Northwest under Coach Moss.

“I finished my schooling at UNA, and that’s kind of what brought me to the Florence area. I was hired at Shoals [Christian] pretty much right out of college.

“I’ve been there 14 years since. When we started there Shoals was not even in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA), and over the next couple of years we built towards that.

“We made the move, and I’m very proud of what we accomplished there.

“When this position came open, my wife and I now have three kids, so one of the things we had kind of been looking for was the right opportunity to move back closer to home.

“I spent some time at Belgreen, and we just felt right at home. I’m excited to make the move.”

According to Odom, there was not a single factor that led to his accepting the job at Belgreen.

“It was a combination of factors,” he said.

“This is our home area, so we’re very comfortable here with family being close.

“That’s very important to us. That played a major role.

“Then you add in the basketball tradition at Belgreen.

“I’ve coached a little of everything at Shoals, being the head basketball and football coach, but deep down the sport of basketball is closest to my heart. It’s my passion.

“ When you add my passion for the game to a community that loves it like Belgreen does, it was exciting for me to think about what we could do there.”

Coach Odom has spent the last 14 years teaching and coaching at a private school, but according to him, there is little difference between working at a private school or a public school.

“You are still dealing with kids on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

“You’re still trying to teach things that are valuable in life are also valuable in athletics.

“Those two things go hand-in-hand. Really when you get down to it, you’re doing the same job, it’s just going to be with a different group of kids.”

Former head coach Watson had a good deal of success during his years at Belgreen, and many have come to expect great things from he boys’ program there.

“That stuff really never bothers me,” Odom said. “Nobody is going to expect more out of me than I do.

“I feel like we were able to do great things with great support and kids at Shoals. You have to get in and work hard.

“I believe hard work gets blessed, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to have high expectations, and that’s going to start with me.

“I wouldn’t want to be around a place that doesn’t have high expectations.

“I’m really ready to get started, and I know those boys are too.

“I’m not one for sitting around very long, so we’re ready to get going.”

Odom is no stranger to Watson or Belgreen, as the two schools did meet on the hardwood during last season.

As a matter of fact, it was Shoals Christian and Odom (as many Belgreen fans will recall) that ended the 2012-13 playoff run for the Bulldogs in a sub-region game.

“I guess there is some irony there,” Odom said. “At that point back in February I don’t guess anyone would have expected this.

“That’s the nature of the business. Coaches move, and it just happened to work out that way.

“In some ways I feel that allows some immediate respect for me coming in.

“You just never know how things are going to work out.”

Odom said he has not yet had a chance to meet his players that will be returning for the 2013-14 season, but he will have plenty of chances to get to know his team and implement his methods before the start of next season.