Stan Gatlin is one of just a handful of coaches in West Tennessee who can say they’ve coached a girls’ basketball team to a state title game.
He is also the all-time winningest boys’ coach in Brighton High School history after just five years on the job.
This upcoming season he will use those considerable credentials to coach Brighton’s boys and girls. He was named the girls’ head coach two weeks ago.
While Gatlin is known more recently for his work with Brighton’s boys, who he took to a sectional game three seasons ago before falling to eventual state champ Memphis East, he has coached some really good girls’ teams in the past.
His girls’ teams at Millington from 2005 to 2011 were dominant. He led them to the state title game in 2008 and multiple players from those teams went on to play at the next level. Gatlin also coached some very good girls’ teams at Southwind from 2011 to 2014.
Gatlin takes over a Brighton girls’ program which has made some major improvements the last two seasons. Last year they were a win away from the program’s first sectional berth. Gatlin was an assistant for the girls last year under David Wampler, who is now coaching at Halls.
“We ran a lot of the same stuff with the boys and the girls,” Gatlin said. “There really won’t be much of a drastic change other than I’ll be in the head coaching role and in a different chair.”
Last year’s team went 24-8, but a lot of key players graduated, namely T’aliyah Brown, M.G. Smith and Haley Simpson, all three of whom started. Key players returning include Sylvia Jones, Albanie Dunn and DeMiyah Gatlin.
“We should have a successful season again,” the coach said. “I think that if we stay healthy and we accept our roles, whatever they may be, and work as hard as they worked this summer we should be successful.”
While Gatlin has plenty of experience coaching boys and girls, this will be the first time he’s done both during the same season. He said the pre-game talk for the boys will have to be done before the girls’ game and he will have an assistant talk to the boys while he finishes up coaching the girls.
There are a few coaches around the area who coach both, including Cedric Anderson at Tipton-Rosemark Academy and Derek McCord at Dyer County.
He acknowledged coaching boys and girls is different.
“With girls the timing has to be a lot more precise. Boys play above the rim and a lot of things can be fixed with that. With girls, the picks have to be set just right. It’s just different in that regard. I want the boys to be precise as well, but they can make up for some of that.”
Which does he prefer?
“I’ve been asked that question a lot of times. It’s just different. I enjoy coaching both of them. I like to think they all have that fire of wanting to get better. It’s rewarding to see that.”
One advantage of coaching both teams is that he gets the opportunity to spend more time with his twins, who are juniors at BHS. DeMiyah is on the girls’ team and DeMaryo Gatlin plays for the boys.
“For years I was coaching other people’s kids and not seeing mine as much as I needed to. They were always at the games, but now that they’re in the gym with me a lot they can’t help but see my face all the time and get sick of it I’m sure,” Gatlin said with a laugh.