In fact, athletic director Benji Morrell didn’t even have to leave the Buccaneers’ gym.
Jason Carmichael, who has served as coach of the freshman boys team, and a varsity assistant for boys coach Markus Hood, will move over to fill the vacancy left by Michael Taylor, who stepped down as coach of the girls program earlier this month.
Morrell sees Carmichael as a “perfect fit.”
“This was a real good situation for us,” Morrell said. “It’s not easy to replace a head coach in any sport.
“We could have spent months searching, but at the end of the day, he’s already a teacher in our building. He’s been on staff here under Markus Hood. This was too good to be true.”
Carmichael has coached with the boys program for six seasons at Allatoona, including the past three years as the freshman head coach. In all, the Allatoona freshman team went 63-36 under Carmichael.
“I was very flattered by the decision,” Carmichael said. “Everything has fallen into place, really. I was a little surprised and flattered. I’m excited to move over to the girls program.”
Before arriving at Allatoona, Carmichael coached the girls team at Hiram, where he worked with Hood, the school’s boys coach at the time. Carmichael mentioned that the chemistry with Hood helped build a bond that he’s glad won’t be broken.
“This was our 15th year either coaching with or against each other,” Carmichael said. “We have that familiarity with one another.”
Morrell also sees familiarity as key, considering that he and Carmichael endorsed the idea that Allatoona has a unique identity that Morrell said would have been hard to preserve with an outside hire.
“I think we’re a special place to work,” Morrell said. “(Carmichael’s) biggest asset is he already knows the Allatoona way.”
“That’s the number one thing that makes me happiest,” Carmichael said about staying put. “The staff here is a family. It’s home here. It’s a welcoming environment, and it’s an amazing feeling to know that I’ll be taking this step up with this sense of comfort, community and phenomenal friends.”
The Lady Buccaneers finished 13-13 this past season after having to replace four stars who led the previous team to the second round of the state playoffs.
Carmichael, however, doesn’t see the program that far off from prospering again, especially considering he will get to coach Brianna Middleton as she returns for her senior season as the team’s top weapon.
“Offensively, we will do a lot to give (Middleton) opportunities to make plays,” Carmichael said. “I think other girls will be in position to benefit from having someone like her on the team.”
Carmichael plans on starting the job on the defensive side.
“Defensive principles have to come first,” he said. “No matter how good you are, there’s always room for improvement defensively.”
A Muncie, Ind., native, Carmichael played collegiately from 1992-95 at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn., where he became the program’s all-time leader in free-throw shooting with an 86-percent clip at the line. He’s also second all-time in assists.