It’s no secret the Brighton High girls’s basketball program has struggled the last few seasons.

Mario Strickland, who was hired over the summer to take over the program, was fully aware of that when he took the job.

“Its 100 percent a rebuild,” Strickland said. “I watched some film and it didn’t look good, just to be frank.”


Strickland comes to Brighton after coaching for several schools in Memphis. He spent the last six seasons as the head coach for the Colonial Middle School girls. He was also head coach at Lester Middle and Soulsville and Manassas high schools. Strickland was an assistant at St. George’s Independent School as well.

Brighton principal Brian Crowson said he talked to Strickland’s former employers and liked what he heard.

“Fundamentals and development. When we talked to him and talked to some of the other schools where he coached, that kept coming up and that’s something we feel this program really needs.”

Strickland worked with his new players over the summer and noticed a few things.

“We have very good kids who are respectful and we have some athletic kids,” Strickland said. “It’s just a culture change. What I’ve seen so far is the group I have, they don’t really take basketball serious. When I say serious, I mean, on my team I have nobody that plays year-round, which is a red flag. Most of the good players play year-round. Nobody trains. It’s more of a hobby.”

Strickland is used to working with players who take basketball seriously. He’s the director of Southeast United, a girls’ AAU basketball program based in Memphis. He said most of the high-level players in Memphis are a part of the program, including a few who were part of the Bartlett state title team.

While Brighton may not be as talented as his AAU teams, he likes the community feel of BHS. He went to a Covington-Haywood basketball last season and the feel of the atmosphere inspired him to seek a job in a smaller community.

“I had never really watched basketball here (Tipton County). It was something different from what we have in the city because most of the kids we have here live in the area. I wanted to go to a community school that had a lot of pride and I wanted to come to a really good school first because athletics can come after you have a really good school … When the jop opened up I thought it would be a great opportunity to be a part of some of the stuff I saw.”

Jeff Ireland
Author: Jeff Ireland