Former Liberty County basketball player Nichole Tazewell is back as a Lady Panther, this time as head coach.
Tazewell has lived in Liberty County since 1998, when her family moved here and she started LCHS as a 14-year-old freshman.
She played varsity basketball for former Lady Panther coach Carolyn Kelly who, retired after last year’s season.
Tazewell said Kelly molded her into a solid player. After her senior year, Tazewell earned a scholarship and played for Valdosta State.
“We got here in 1998 and I was about 14 at the time. Pretty much two days before ninth grade started,” Tazewell said. “I’ve been here over half my life.”
Valdosta State’s athletic website says Tazewell played in 28 games with 26 starts her senior year and got 30 total rebound and 151 total points.
“When I first got back (from college) and started coaching, initially I was under coach Kelly for my first three years,” Tazewell said. “I was the JV coach as an assistant coach for Liberty’s varsity.”
She said she stepped away from coaching at LCHS to start her family and take of other matters.
She soon returned to the sport to coach the Lewis Frasier Middle School Lady Patriots.
She said her first year at Lewis Frasier the Lady Patriots won four of their eight games.
“We lost the first four … and then we won the next four. … After that the next couple of seasons we lost two games per season. Then the one season right before this past season we only won two games … with these same girls and I got after them because I knew they had it in them to win,” She said. “Last year we went undefeated. They were awesome.”
The Lady Patriots performed so well they received an invitation to last year’s Donell Wood Tournament. The tournament is typically open to only ninth-grade and junior varsity teams. Tazewell’s eight-graders won second place in the girls division.
Tazewell coached the Lady Patriots for five years and said she is now looking forward to coaching at the high school level.
“It is an awesome opportunity,” she said. “Not a lot of people get a chance to do something like this. To be able to coach at home where it all started.”
She said she had dreamed she would become a high school coach.
“I am a spiritual person. When I have dreams I don’t take them lightly, but it felt like it was going to be a bigger role than just basketball and I questioned, am I ready for it?” she said. “You have to be a role model … more than just on the floor. Some coaches make a lasting impact on your life. … And in my dream I felt like I needed to make a lasting impact on people. … Part of me knew I had to do it.”
She learned she got the job in mid June.
“I immediately got the girls together to jump into training and conditioning,” she said. “We did about three weeks to a month of training and went to Armstrong and they did pretty good there,” she said about competing at the college’s basketball tournament.
Tazewell said the players were in decent shape, also had areas she plans to work on as they prepare for the season.
She said she is also working on new strategies.
“We are going to have an exciting up-tempo defense,” she said. “We are going to be the type of defense that causes turnovers. We will get a lot of fast break points.”
According to maxpreps.com, the Lady Panthers hit the hardwood on Dec. 9 at Long County.