By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Caleb Carpenter is back in Bulldog country.
The 2006 Ashville High graduate, who was recently hired as the school’s boys varsity basketball coach, is delighted that his first head basketball coaching position will be at his alma mater.
“It’s definitely exciting to come back and coach where I once played,” said Carpenter (pictured at right), who will also be an assistant coach for the varsity baseball team.
“I’m looking to bring some of the old-school feel with a new-school vibe. There’s always been a good following at Ashville, and I want to recreate the atmosphere that we once had there. One of the things we want to touch on is getting the all the sports programs to support one another and having the community being on board.”
Ashville won the area basketball championship during Carpenter’s sophomore, junior and senior years and made it to the Northeast Regional Tournament at Jacksonville State in in his junior and senior seasons. The Bulldogs lost to Weaver in the Class 3A regional finals in 2005-05 and to Cherokee County in overtime in the region semifinals his senior year of 2006-06. Ashville last qualified for the regional tournament in 2013.
“Short-term, we want our kids to play hard, and from what I’ve already seen on film, we shouldn’t have a problem with that,” he said. “I also want us to be a competitive team again, where other teams know that we’ll be a tough out when they play us. In the long term, I want to be able to make it back to regionals and put Ashville back on the map.”
Carpenter played basketball and baseball at Wallace State-Selma before finishing his associate degree at Gadsden State. He graduated from JSU in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education/biology and is currently working on his master’s degree.
For the past seven years, Carpenter taught at Tuscaloosa County High School, where he was head track and field coach. He was also an assistant coach for basketball and football.
AHS athletic director/head football coach Shea Monroe believes Carpenter is a good fit for both the basketball program and the school.
“Being from Ashville, Caleb understands not only our kids, but our community. I was very impressed with his interview process, and I think he’s somebody that all our coaches can work with. Caleb’s got a long-term plan of what it’s going to take to build a successful program. He’s going to start out at the youth level so the kids will know what to expect when they get to high school in terms of schemes and expectations. He’s very professional, and I think he’ll come in and do a very good job.”
Carpenter literally grew up in local gymnasiums, as his dad Joe has been a high school head basketball coach for the past 36 years, including the past 14 at Cedar Bluff, where he coaches both the girls and boys’ programs.
“My dad’s obviously been a big influence. He’s been an outlet that I could reach out to, and he’s always been very supportive. He always been willing to reach out and give me any information I’d ask for. More than that, my dad has been an inspiration to me in how he’s affected so many kids’ lives throughout the years. More than wins and losses, I’ve realized that the most joy you get from being a coach is in the way you can impact a kid’s life for the better.”
Carpenter was part of the school’s last state title, as he was a freshman on the Bulldogs’ Class 3A state championship baseball team in 2003.
“I still have that ring today,” he said. “I can talk to the kids about the hard work and determination it takes to accomplish that, as well as everyone on the team having the same mindset of wanting to finish on top at the end of the season.”