Rhea County High School didn't have to go far to find its next softball coach. Lady Golden Eagles' volleyball coach Hannah Suits has also been hired as the school's softball coach.
Suits is succeeding Cara Stiles, who spent one season as Rhea's coach before accepting the head softball coaching position at East Hamilton.
Suits played softball and volleyball at Bradley Central High School before moving on to play volleyball at Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn. She said as crazy as it might get, she thinks she's ready for the challenge of being head coach of two sports at the high school level.
"I've always been interested in softball," Suits said. "I just thought this would be a good opportunity. I love the sport, but I know it's going to be a challenge."
Rhea County assistant principal Micah Ruehling said of similar importance is the hiring of assistant coach Leah Price, who played softball at Rhea County and recently completed her playing career at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn.
"They're young girls who bring a lot of excitement and energy and should really give the program a boost," Ruehling said. "I think they'll bring some stability, too, which is important to us.
"Our ultimate goal is to have all of our girls graduate high school, then pursue in life what they want to do. By having Hannah and Leah there, we stand a good chance of achieving those goals."
Rhea County was fifth-seeded in last season's District 5-AAA tournament and ended up getting as far as the losers-bracket final before being eliminated 3-2 by longtime power Ooltewah. The Lady Eagles had an 8-6 victory over No. 2-seeded Walker Valley along the way, and all 15 players from last year's 15-17 team were underclassmen.
"I didn't follow it much as I'd like to because I was working with volleyball," Suits said. "They did really well in the district tournament. There's a really good group coming back and some really good freshmen coming in. I think things are on the upswing."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653.