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Kerry Strong

Kerry Strong’s name came up with nearly every coaching change in East Texas the past decade due to his success at every previous stop.

On Monday, the one job that was too hard to pass up became a reality when he was hired to come home.

Strong, a 1996 Spring Hill High School graduate, was named head boys basketball coach for the Panthers during a Spring Hill ISD board meeting on Monday. He will also teach World History and will head up the high school girl’s track program.

The hire was first reported by Reagan Roy of news partner, CBS 19.

“It’s home,” said Strong, who has a career coaching record of 234-146. “I’m excited and nervous, and obviously want it to go well.”

Strong was at Quitman from 2001-2006, but his first head coaching job was at Ore City. He spent one season there, and then coached at Kilgore from 2007-2010. He has been at Big Sandy since the 2010-2011 season, compiling a 201-119 record with the Wildcats.

“It’s a tough decision,” Strong said of leaving Big Sandy. “There have been a lot of sleepless nights trying to figure out if it was the right thing to do. The greatest success and my best teams of my career came at Big Sandy. I’ve made a ton of lifelong friends in coaching and in the community, and it’s difficult to leave. I get calls every year from different places, but this one just worked out and seemed right at this time.”

Strong said offenses and defenses change depending on player personnel, but the basic philosophy of the way his teams will approach the game will always be the same.

“The kids are different every year, but we’ll always have a few things we hang our hat on,” he said. “We’ll be tough. Our slogan has always been ‘Tough players win.’ We’ll play smart. I’m going to coach them hard. I’ll have high expectations, but it’ll be fair. I’ll just love on them and hope we continue to build on the success they’ve had at Spring Hill and do things the right way.”

Spring Hill finished the 2020-2021 season with a 17-12 record, falling to Paris (62-50) in the bi-district playoffs.

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Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: @lnjsports

Sports editor

I've covered sports in East Texas since 1987, starting as a 21-year-old sports editor at the Kilgore News Herald before spending seven years at the Lufkin Daily News and the past 23 years at the Longview News-Journal.