On the surface it appears Ed Clendenen has stepped back, and while it's true the veteran high school coach will spend the 2014-15 school year in a seemingly lesser role in an unfamiliar surrounding, there is nothing that suggests he's slowing down.
Clendenen recently accepted a new position as assistant boys' basketball coach at North Murray High School, leaving behind a near-legendary stint at Gordon Lee that included two different stops, 20 total years and multiple banners. His last moment in Chickamauga was leading the golf team to a state championship, one of more than 700 wins in three sports -- basketball and volleyball were the others -- Clendenen earned at Gordon Lee.
Why leave such a comfortable situation to take an assistant's position at a four-year-old school with very little athletic success?
"It is just time to recharge the batteries," said Clendenen, who also will be assisting with the Mountaineers' football program. "Gordon Lee is a special place and I've really enjoyed my time there. At the same time I'm also very excited about North Murray. I love all the people I've met, and the kids are very talented, too.
"I was very impressed with the principal, Dr. [Maria] Bradley, and the fact she wants excellence in the classroom and athletic field."
Clendenen is joining head coach Tim Ellis' North Murray basketball staff following a disappointing season after a playoff year in 2012-13. Ellis, who developed a friendship with Clendenen after they worked together at some camps, feels like a kid at Christmas with his hire.
"Words can't describe how happy I am to have Ed on board," Ellis said. "He brings a wealth of knowledge, but more than that he brings so much passion for the game. To have the opportunity to work with somebody who cares so much about kids on and off the court means a great deal to me. We have everything in place to reach some high levels, and Ed will help us get there."
Clendenen has been out of school for barely a week at Gordon Lee and already is making his mark with the Mountaineers in summer workouts and scrimmages. After surviving a scare with cancer in the past year, he's not about to allow himself to be away from the athletic field for long.
"My health is good right now," he said. "The last check I had my white [blood cell] count is good, and the good Lord willing, it will stay that way. It's been a busy week, and from first impressions I can say I'm excited about this team and very impressed with the way Tim has them prepared. Between basketball and football, it's been a busy week."
In addition to the administration's dedication, one thing that sold Clendenen and his wife on North Murray is the campus itself, including state-of-the-art facilities. The Mountaineers' gym, for instance, seats 3,000. There are no benches for seating, meaning the stands are permanent.
"They spared no expense with the school and athletic facilities," Clendenen said. "My wife's jaw dropped open when I first took her there. It's so beautiful and well-kept, and as far as the gym is concerned, it's the best around and hopefully we can fill that arena several times next season.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity and just the change itself. I loved Gordon Lee, but I think I will fit right in at North Murray."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...