ROCKINGHAM — When the Richmond Senior girls basketball team takes to the court this winter, it will be under the direction of a new coach.
The administration at the school informed Nellie Harrington her contract would not be renewed during a meeting last week.
“I was shocked,” Harrington said. “It certainly wasn’t what I expected. I thought I was going in there to talk about next year and order new uniforms. I had no clue they were going to let me go. As far as I’m concerned, I thought I did a good job and moved the program forward.”
Richmond athletic director Kevin Mabe declined comment when reached by phone Wednesday afternoon.
In a letter sent to Harrington dated May 30, Mabe said, “I have noticed the direction that our women’s basketball program has gone through in the past two seasons. Although we have several quality points concerning our women’s program, I wish to make a change to our women’s basketball program. Being a coach is extremely tough and I appreciate your efforts in helping our student athletes become better people.
“I want to inform you that your position as women’s basketball coach at Richmond Senior High School will not be renewed for (the) next school year and beyond.”
In her three years, Harrington guided the Raiders to a 55-17 record, a 25-5 mark in Southeastern Conference play and captured the league championship in 2011. Harrington was named as the SEC’s Coach of the Year when she was the interim coach in 2010 after leading Richmond to a second-place finish, earning her the permanent position.
The Raiders qualified for the postseason in all three seasons under Harrington and advanced to the second round of the state 4A playoffs in 2010. In its last two playoff appearances, Richmond was knocked out in the opening round by a lower seed. Harrington said the administration talked about February’s first-round home loss to North Davidson.
“They said the girls didn’t seem like they knew what they were doing out there,” Harrington said. “They talked about the team in general and said anything the team did wrong was a reflection on me.”
Former Richmond player Malaysia Bloomfield was surprised when she learned her former coach was let go.
“They wanted a championship that’s all,” Bloomfield said. “The coach can’t get out there and play, the players have to play. The football team didn’t win a championship and they didn’t lay anyone off.”
Mabe said in his letter to Harrington “the search for a new women’s basketball coach will begin immediately until the position is filled.”
The job is currently listed on the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s website with a deadline of June 29 to apply.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com