Catherine Neely celebrates 50 years in coaching

Catherine Neely celebrates 50 years in coaching

October 2nd, 2013 in Local Regional News

East Ridge head volleyball coach Catherine Neely talks to players during a timeout of a volleyball match against Central High recently. A reception celebrating Neely's 50th year coaching volleyball at East Ridge was held after the game.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

Fifty years is a long time to do anything - especially work with teenagers.

But for 71-year-old Hixson resident Catherine Neely, a retired teacher who has coached volleyball at East Ridge High School for the last 50 years and served as its athletic director since 1990, it's all in a day's work.

"I guess I'm just kind of a longevity person," she said. "The way we were brought up you just move on and do what you can do. You get up and go to work every day."

This is a lesson she's worked hard to impart on high school girls during her tenure as a volleyball coach and her 43-year stint as a basketball coach.

"I always try one way or another to tell them, let's get better every day," she said. "You have to not be afraid of hard work. It's a daily process."

Along with the coaching comes an unmistakable link to other life skills and the role of a mentor and friend, she said.

"I think you have to be more than a coach," said Neely. "I'm interested in seeing them grow and mature."

With about 20 trips to the state championship and two state championship wins under her belt, she said the good memories are endless, but nothing compares to the relationships she's made over the years that include students, officials and other coaches.

After five decades of coaching, Neely said she still isn't exactly sure what the future holds or how much longer she'll stay in her current positions.

"I'll just evaluate it at the end of the year and see what comes," she said. "I don't ever make a decision in the middle of a season. If I did it would probably be the wrong one."