Bryant Blackmon knew 2014 would be a banner year when he learned that he and wife Meghan would have their first child, daughter Reed, in July.
Along with the banners, he's now adding streamers and confetti after learning that he will be the new wrestling coach at Ooltewah High School.
"Wendell Weathers is leaving huge shoes to fill, but I'm excited about the opportunity to work with [Ooltewah principal] Mr. Jim Jarvis, [athletic director] Jesse Nayadley and Wendell. I'm ready to get on the mat with the guys," Blackmon said.
Weathers recently resigned as coach to move into administration as Ooltewah's dean of students.
"Wendell had a great career and produced some tough teams and some tough individuals over the years. My goal is to keep us moving forward," Blackmon said.
Weathers has known for several months that he was likely to move into administration and used that time to scout out potential succeeding candidates.
"He didn't know it, but we have been studying him as well as others for quite some time with this day in mind," Weathers said. "Our Ooltewah community has inherited a very hard-working and caring educator and, as a bonus, a mighty fine wrestling coach. I applaud the recommendation to hire this young man. The hire is a big score for our school and our community. He is a product of a great family from one of the finest communities in our state."
Blackmon has a strong wrestling background from his days in Bradley Central's kids club wrestling program and later the tutelage of Bradley wrestling legends Turner Jackson and Steve Logsdon. He also wrestled on a pair of national championship teams under John Smith at Oklahoma State. Most recently he has been an assistant coach with Hank Raines to Alan Morris at Walker Valley.
Blackmon also has head coaching experience, having served a year at Greenback, where he took that team to a third-place finish in Tennessee's Class A/AA state duals.
"I learned a lot at Bradley -- it's been a huge part of my life -- and Coach John Smith is one of wrestling's national and international legends," Blackmon said. "Oklahoma State was a whole new level of wrestling and competition. I learned further how to train properly and improve technique and took my wrestling to a whole new level.
"I then had a chance to work as a head coach at Greenback, and Justin Ridge was around to help me over the humps of being a head coach, and what I have learned from him and Alan will be a tremendous help as far as my approach to continue building the program that Wendell has established."
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.