ABERDEEN – Both Aberdeen basketball programs are getting new faces to head up their teams next season.
Kelvin Young has been tabbed as the next head coach of the Bulldogs, while Sanqueeta Meardith will head up the girls’ team.
Young’s last coaching job was at Kemper County, from 2009 to 2014, winning a state championship and coaching standout Devonta Pollard there. Meardith was a standout player at Shannon High School and the University of North Alabama, also serving as an assistant at Mount Paran Christian College in Georgia.
The Bulldogs return several starters from last season with a large incoming senior class.
“I’m trying to change this program around too,” Young said. “I’m very interested to see how far along these guys have come, and I will be testing their thinking and mental stability when they get here. Hopefully we can turn this season around.”
Meardith said she missed her junior season of high school, but her first game back during her senior year was against Aberdeen. She played at Itawamba Community College before transferring to UNA, leading the Lady Indians to a state championship for the first time since 1976. She also helped take Mount Paran to a Sweet 16 as an assistant coach.
“That was a good experience for me, and ever since then I have been training and working with kids,” she said. “I know they lost a few talented seniors here at Aberdeen, but I look forward to working with the girls and them getting used to me and doing new things. I know it won’t be the same thing as what they once had with Coach (Lorenzo) Conley, but I’m going to come in and try to rebuild the program and work with the girls on the court and off it.”
Young said he has always admired the Aberdeen program under longtime coach Roy Hazzle.
“I got to coach against Coach Hazzle, who is one of the best. I faced him down in 2009, 2010 and 2012, and they always had strong, outstanding teams here,” he said. “It’s an honor to come here and be able to coach at his house. Hopefully I can do a good job.”
Meardith said she also admires the basketball culture at Aberdeen.
“I’m very excited to be a Bulldog and ready to see the fans,” she said. “I know it’s going to be crazy when it does start, and I’m real excited to be here. It’s a blessing that I’m very thankful for.”
Young describes his coaching style as up tempo.
“Hopefully we can do some things defensively, and I can get them to gel offensively together,” he said. “We will see how that goes. Coming here is going to be a good challenge, and I want to help these young men be productive so they can be good citizens after this.”
As a defensive player in college, Meardith said she focuses on that aspect and also wants her team to play fast.
“I would rather us get the rebound and go besides setting up the play, but I’m more focused on our defense,” she said. “I’m going to push the defense because if we don’t have that, then we aren’t going to do anything. Even though I was an offensive player in high school, I’m more focused on that defense.”
With having coached at Kemper County, Young is familiar with the teams on Aberdeen’s schedule and in their division.
“We used to play Noxubee a lot in tournaments, and I will get familiar with the other teams in the division really quickly,” he said. “My plans immediately are to get tryouts and get to know the guys, and hopefully we can play some this summer, and I can see what positions I need to put them in. I need to figure out where these guys need to go.”
Meardith also sees the challenge in Aberdeen’s new division, which also includes rivals Amory, Hatley and Nettleton.
“Those are going to be some tough games, and I’m looking forward to getting them prepared for those games and being able to fight through them and working hard in the games,” Meardith said. “I’m ready for it all. I want to get in here and work with the girls, teach them fundamentals and basics and just go back and teach them the right way to play. I look forward to working with them to make them better and being out there on the court with them too.”