By Thomas Sellers Jr.
For the past two years, part of the buzz of girls high school basketball has been the young upstart Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels.
To go along with the combination of a young coach with young players full of potential, TRA was winning several games. On the brink of reaching the final four of Division II-A in Nashville the past two years, many were predicting Cameron Pridemore’s bunch taking the next step in the 2019-2020 season.
But if the TRA Lady Rebels are to make the journey to Nashville next season, it will be without their architect. Late last month Pridemore accepted the head basketball coach position at Christian Academy in Louisville, Ky.
“This was the toughest decision of my life,” Pridemore said. “I lost a lot of sleep. I met with the girls today (April 22). It was a lot of emotion and a lot of crying. But it stinks but that was a good sign because it’s special. This is a special place and a special group of girls. This was the toughest decision I’ve ever made in regards to my career.”
Pridemore and his bride Sydney will move closer to their hometown of Knoxville. Pridemore came to West Tennessee four years ago joining the staff of Ryan Ross at Munford High School. After one season with the Cougars, Pridemore was given his first head coaching job at TRA at the age of 26.
“One of the first things about it, it’s only a couple of hours away from Knoxville where both my wife and I are from,” Pridemore said. “That was a big plus about the situation. The school in general is a great school, it’s a great program with a lot of tradition. It was special opportunity. With the timing of it, it made it difficult for sure. The program aside, TRA in general, I love working here.
“I love the administration, the friends we’ve made and all the coaches,” he added. “Our bond here is extremely tight. That went into the thought process. You don’t get that at a lot of schools. It was a really special opportunity and a special place. With all of that it got us closer to home. We’re a 2-hour road trip on the weekend which is lot easier that a 6-hour trip over the weekend. All of those things together that pushed us that way.”
Pridemore pushed his Lady Rebels to a 67-20 record in three season to leave TRA with one of the best winning percentages in school history. The Lady Rebels played in Sub-State each season losing a heartbreaker to Knoxville Webb on the road in the Division II-A first round at Providence Christian Academy in Murfreesboro.
“Our last game this year in Sub-State, I think about it quite often,” Pridemore acknowledged. “We should have won that one. It was a tough one we went through together and we’ve all grown through those things. That made it tough because I feel like we’ve gone through a lot of milestones together.”
Pridemore said he was blessed to have a group of players that allowed him to mature and experiment in order to achieve success.
“I told them this at the banquet, ‘I feel like we’ve all grew up together,’” Pridemore recalled. “I got the job when I was 26. My first head coaching job. And the nucleus was young. We had some really special players like a Brittany Hall and others who graduated.
“But this huge nucleus that we’ve got now was mainly eighth and ninth graders when I took over,” he continued. “We’ve grown up together. That’s hard. I feel like we’ve all matured together. We’ve gone through some really, really great times.”
Pridemore said he will always remember those great times as he prepares to head to Kentucky. He hopes he’ll leave behind a positive impact on his players and students.
“I hope they know a really cared about them, not just as players,” he said. “But as students, people and how they treated one another. It was something we really focused on – playing for each other and loving one another. Don’t just be teammates but be great teammates focusing on a lot of positive.
“I hope those things they carry on because those are the things I think make you a great person in life and that you can carry on,” Pridemore concluded. “I hope those traits are traits that carry over. That’s what I really hope is left.”