MADISONVILLE — Sequoyah girls basketball and softball coach Eddie Gambrell resigned from the school Thursday evening after what principal Gary Cole called an “unfortunate situation.”
Neither Cole nor Monroe County Schools director Tim Blankenship would comment on the situation further. One other teacher at Sequoyah High School, Virginia Tallent, resigned at the same time.
The resignation comes right after the girls’ basketball program’s stretch of unprecedented success under Gambrell — including back-to-back Class AA substate appearances and its first District 5-AA championship in 19 years.
In the wake of Gambrell’s resignation, the softball team’s planned trip to Science Hill for a tournament this weekend was canceled. Courtney Self, who assisted Gambrell on the basketball staff this season, was named the interim softball head coach Friday.
“She is well like by students,” Cole said of Self. “She was well received by the players.”
On the other hand, the girls’ basketball coach opening will be addressed much more slowly, with the new season more than seven months away.
The job opening and search will start immediately, with Monroe County Schools to post the position available in the next couple of days.
But in the immediate wake of the basketball Lady Chiefs’ run of success — just a game short of the Class AA state tournament the last two years — Cole expressed the need to approach the hire of Gambrell’s replacement with great care.
“We want to make sure we get the absolute best, qualified person we can,” Cole said. “We are not going to rush.”
The new coach will arrive at Sequoyah facing a rebuilding situation for 2015-2016 after the graduation of four senior starters.
Gambrell had come to Sequoyah over from West High School in Knoxville, where he led the Lady Rebels to the Class AAA Final Four in the 2010-2011 season.
He took over the Lady Chiefs in 2012-2013, a program that was already on the rise following a 17-win season. Sequoyah went 20-9 his first season at the helm.
His second year saw the Lady Chiefs defeat powerhouse McMinn Central for the first time in 15 years in the Region 3-AA semifinals, then go on to win the program’s first-ever region championship and get to substate for the first time since 1996.
Sequoyah’s girls made the substate round again in 2015, also winning the District 5-AA championship.
The Lady Chiefs’ record over Gambrell’s three-year tenure was 60-31, the best stretch in school history.
In addition to his basketball duties, Gambrell served as an assistant softball coach for 2013 before taking over as the softball head coach in 2014. Those Lady Chiefs finished second in the district in the regular season and a game short of a long-awaited region tournament berth.