Campbell girls coach joins 400-win club
by Adam Carrington
acarrington@mdjonline.com
November 25, 2013 12:24 AM | 3587 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Longevity is the norm for coaching basketball at Campbell High School. Last season, boys coach James Gwyn reached 400 career wins at the Smyrna school. On Friday, it was girls coach Randy McClure, above, who gained entry into the 400-win club.
<BR>Staff file photo
Longevity is the norm for coaching basketball at Campbell High School. Last season, boys coach James Gwyn reached 400 career wins at the Smyrna school. On Friday, it was girls coach Randy McClure, above, who gained entry into the 400-win club.
Staff file photo
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Randy McClure never intended to become the girls basketball coach at Campbell High School.

He gave it a try anyway on the fall of 1990, after Sheryl Fowler left the Smyrna school to take over at McEachern. McClure inherited a program that finished 22-3 in Fowler’s final season and stuck it out before posting a 10-12 mark.

McClure remembered meeting with then-principal Cathy Cochran right after his debut season and told her, “I’d rather watch paint dry than coach girls basketball.”

McClure had been coaching the freshman boys basketball team — where he was more comfortable — before accepting the girls varsity job. He was also teaching five science classes a day, coaching running backs for the football team in the fall and coaching track and field in the spring.

But McClure wasn’t sure if he really wanted to quit.

After meeting with several influential people in his life, he was persuaded to give it one more year. He went to see Cochran following his second season, which produced a 1-21 mark.

“I told you it wasn’t a good idea,” McClure remembered saying to his principal.

But instead of stepping away from girls basketball team, McClure said Cochran told him something to the likes of, “Coach, you have time to build. We want you to build it up the way you want it.”

On Friday night, that building job reached a new milestone.

Now in his 23rd season at the helm, McClure recorded his 400th career victory when the Lady Spartans defeated South Cobb 61-37 in a home-court win.

In the span of 22 seasons before the milestone, McClure has taken Campbell to the state semifinals once, the quarterfinals nine times and has posted eight region championships.

McClure’s 400th win came a little less than a year after longtime Campbell boys coach James Gwyn notched his 400th.

“Randy, obviously, is a war horse because he’s a throwback,” Gwyn said. “He has 400 wins at one school, and you’re not going to get a whole lot of guys that have spent that much time at one school. He, obviously, has made a commitment to Campbell.”

The supposed misery of having to coach girls basketball began to fade early in McClure’s tenure, when he would assign drills and teach his team plays, and they would pick up on it rather quickly. Since McClure was also the girls track coach, he said the idea of his players running track during the spring “was highly recommended.”

That helped the players build speed. Having grown up a fan of the University of North Carolina’s vaunted men’s basketball program, he picked up on legendary Tar Heels coach Dean Smith and his philosophy of rapidly moving the ball up and down the court.

Now, McClure’s most successful teams have quick and fast guards who can generate close to 30 steals a game as team and turn those turnovers into successful layups.

“He always has those quick guards and does a really good job getting those girls to do what he asks them to do,” said McEachern coach Phyllis Arthur, who has faced McClure’s teams often during her years at McEachern and Pebblebrook. “Your defense has to be on point. If not, his girls will annihilate you because they are so quick.”

McClure’s got a banner hanging on his office wall that says “1-21 … Never forget where you came from.”

As the players began to pick up on McClure’s coaching philosophy, Campbell continued to improve to — from 5-17 in 1992-93 to 13-10 a year later, then 21-5 in the 1994-95 season and a new peak of 27-3 in 1995-96.

“I would have them do a drill and then leave and come back to see what they were doing,” McClure said. “The girls were focusing in on what I was focusing on. We kept with it day after day and started winning more.”

McClure said his career has been full of highlights, but the 2010-2011 season is sticks out. That’s when the Lady Spartans made their state semifinal appearance before falling to eventual state champion Norcross.

Led by future college players Chakecia Miller (George Washington) and Erica Norwood (Furman), Campbell made the final four that spring with a 58-53 win over region rival North Cobb.

Campbell missed the playoffs the following season but returned last winter, clinching its berth with a 68-58 triple-overtime win over Harrison in the Region 4AAAAAA tournament.

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