Seeking to bolster its faculty and athletic coaching staff, Signal Mountain Middle/High School has hired Kendra Bell, Barry Loyal and Phil Mansueto.
"The hope in all three sports programs is to take advantage of our [grades] 6-12 configuration and build our middle school and high school programs," Signal principal Robin Copp said.
An experienced coach at the middle school, high school and junior college levels, Bell will assume the girls' basketball coaching duties. Mansueto will serve as the head coach of the middle school wrestling team and assist Joe Jellison with the high school program. Loyal, former head football coach at Chattanooga Christian, joins the Eagles' staff as wide receivers coach.
"I was an athlete and I also coached a lot of kids. While few went to college [athletics], I hope we instilled some lessons that will carry on with them in life," Copp said. "With our coaching staff, we want to develop character, teach some lessons that will help them in their lives and hopefully win some games along the way."
Bell is the best known of the bunch, having starred in basketball at Red Bank and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She has coached at Soddy-Daisy and Ooltewah and at Chattanooga State.
"We wanted someone that had college experience as a player and as a coach, and we were impressed with her philosophy for developing the entire student-athlete," Copp said. "Her ideals were perfect, and her experience speaks for itself."
Bell said she was impressed with the administration and the facilities.
"It's a 6-through-12 school, a great academic school with great community support -- the academics as well as athletics -- and I'm old enough to realize what that really means," the coach said. "You don't get a lot of opportunities like this, and I couldn't say no, didn't want to say no. I have mixed emotions. I have been helping out in Hixson and I love teaching [at East Hamilton], but Signal Mountain is in a tough district. It's a big challenge, but I like challenges."
Mansueto, a three-time NCAA tournament qualifier for Cleveland State University in Ohio, has been in the Chattanooga area for several years and has helped UTC with its wrestling camps. The twin of former Mocs assistant Rocco Mansueto, he is currently teaching at Ivy Academy, an environmental science charter school in Soddy-Daisy.
"I'm excited about the opportunity," he said. "I have heard positive things about the program, and I look forward to working with Mrs. Copp. She is very supportive of the athletic programs, academics and exceptional education."
Copp feels she has a formidable wrestling staff.
"Phil brings in a level of competition that we haven't had in the past," she said. "I'm really excited about where we're taking the whole [athletic] program."
That would include the addition of Loyal, who engineered the high-scoring spread offense at CCS. He was listed as a potential faculty member and coaching candidate by Eagles football coach Bill Price.
"He comes with fantastic recommendations," Copp said. "Once again we want to grow the students, and his philosophy is right with ours. Every person I talked with to a person talked about him developing character and how it was more than football with him but developing the whole student."
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.