There might have been bigger names and people with more head coaching experience who applied for the vacant head boys’ basketball coach position at Munford High School.
However, as the decision makers at Munford thought about it more and more, Nick Buford’s name kept surfacing.
“Over and over again, while we looked at resumes, his name kept popping up,” MHS principal Dr. Courtney Fee said Wednesday evening when she introduced Buford as the new coach to about 50 people at the MHS football stadium. “Coach Buford brings a love for the game of basketball and this program, a love for our school and a sincere desire to build up and develop our student-athletes. When you combine all those factors, the decision became clear … if you can find people who love the game, that’s who you need to put in front of your guys.”
Buford, 34, played basketball for Munford High School in the early 2000s. He was the head girls’ coach and assistant boys’ coach at Millington Central High School last season after spending four years coaching at Munford Middle, four at Brighton Middle and three as an assistant for the Brighton High boys.
He grew up in Drummonds and has 14 years of coaching experience, 12 of which came in Tipton County. His two children, Klara and Karter, attend Tipton County schools and his wife, Kellee, is a teacher here.
“Excitement, thankful,” Buford said when asked his thoughts on being hired. “I’m just thankful to be thought of. The number one thing in it all is family. It was very hard to leave the Millington girls, but at the end of the day, what matters the most to me, because it was the way I was raised, is family. That means a lot to me.”
After being introduced as Munford’s new coach, Buford talked to his new players, most of whom were in attendance. He said he planned to begin working with them immediately.
Munford won a district title two seasons ago and finished second in the league last season under coach Ryan Ross, who resigned on June 3 to take the head coaching job at South-Doyle High School in Knoxville.
“I think the program is in a good state,” Buford said. “One thing I discussed with Dr. Fee and (athletic director) Mr. (Mike) Huffman is my plan to really invest in the community. I want to start with the fourth- and fifth-graders and start getting them ready and developing them. I want do a lot of Saturday morning camps. I want to get everybody excited … The way I remember Munford basketball is a lot of packed gyms. Those 90s were amazing. I would love to see us get back to that level.”
Steve Poindexter, who has been the Munford High girls’ coach for 10 seasons, was consulted by Fee and Huffman during the hiring process. He got to know Buford when he coached at Munford Middle and believes he is a perfect fit.
“I don’t think you’re going to find anybody who has any more pride in this school and this community than Nick,” Poindexter said. “I think, at a place like Munford, that’s very important because sometimes here you have to have people who are going to dig in, scratch and fight to get everything out of kids to compete. I think that’s what you’re going to find in him … I guess you could look for the biggest name, but I think having somebody who’s going to dig into this community and really cares about the community, to me that’s more impressive than any name you can find.”
Buford was announced as Munford’s head coach on the birthday of Adrian Nathaniel, a legendary former Munford High coach and player who died four years ago.
Huffman got choked up when he told those assembled about how “Big Nate” was his basketball coach in the late 1980s.
“When you look for a sign if you got the right guy, it all comes together,” Huffman said. “He’s watching over us. I know that.”