CCHS hires Goodwin to take over boys hoop program

Apr. 25—Christian Goodwin and his wife Rebekah had felt for years what they believed was a tugging on their hearts to work with young people, and more specifically, high school students.

However, the life of a basketball coach is always fluid. There are jobs all around the country, and coaches will often seek the ones at the college level. The Goodwins have done that.

But the call has been strong for the couple, and the Goodwins are eager to get back to the high school ranks. Christian has been named the new boys' basketball coach at Cumberland County High School.

"We realized something was missing in our lives, and realized we wanted to be involved with high school kids," Christian said. "We were looking for the opportunity to witness, impact and guide that age group.

"I think one of my gifts is discernment. I told the interview committee that I think Cumberland County High School is a gem. I think the facilities and the resources are phenomenal. The community is great. There is a lot of youth on the team and that's appealing. We're going to build it the way we want to. I think it is a good fit."

Principal Scott Calahan, who spearheaded the interview process, said there were 15 applicants for the position.

"We had a lot of quality applicants, but we believe Christian will work hard for our kids and our basketball program," Calahan said. "He has experience as an assistant and head coach, he has a strong vision for the program and is eager to work with our feeder programs. I am excited."

Christian, 26, grew up in Baldwin County, AL, near Gulf Shores. He went to Central Christian School in Robertsdale, where he played basketball and graduated in 2017. He coached hoops there for a couple of years, becoming head coach in 2019 at the age of 20.

Later in 2019, the Goodwins moved to Tuscaloosa so that he could finish his college studies. While there, he worked with the University of Alabama men's basketball team. While attending UA. Christian coached two years at American Christian Academy in Tuscaloosa where he took the team to a Sweet 16 appearance.

Christian then took a job as a graduate assistant coach at Union University in Jackson, TN, helping the team to one of its most successful seasons in school history with a 24-9 mark in 2021-22.

The Goodwins moved back to Alabama for Christian to become the head coach at Jemison High School. He took over a rebuilding project and improved the Jaguars' win total from five to eight. He did not coach last season.

"We knew it would be a rebuilding project at Jemison," Christian said. "They had won five games the year before and had lost 90% of their production to graduation."

The move to Crossville is, he said, not as far-fetched as it may seem. Christian and Rebekah have vacationed often at Fairfield Glade. He said their favorite restaurant is the Custard Cabin.

Christian came up to Crossville April 22 to meet the team and talk with parents. He said he described his philosophy and how he wants to run the Jets program.

"I won't sugarcoat anything. I am an offensive mind," he said. "It is going to be a fun style of basketball. We're going to have really good pace, and that means the pace with which you move, the pace with which the ball moves, the pace with which we cut. Everything is full speed.

"We will look to get to the rim, and we're going to play physical at the rim. And we're looking to get to the free throw line. The third thing is when we're not at the rim or getting to the line, we're spraying it out and we're taking a bunch of 3-pointers. It will be inside out, and off the catch. We're going to take a bunch of them."

Christian said his players should know the CCHS program will be very relational. There will be a lot of communication, a lot of talking, and it won't always be about basketball. He said he has five core values in his basketball program — joy, maturity, humility, discipline and attitude.

"If we're not having fun playing basketball," Christian said, "then we're in the wrong business."

Christian said one of the attractions about taking the Cumberland County job was the opportunity to play against the likes of programs like Upperman, White County, Livingston Academy, DeKalb County and Stone Memorial.

"I am very competitive, and the competition level in the district is part of the draw," he said. "When I see the opportunity to play programs that are state champions, Elite 8 or Final Fours, or see kids that are nationally ranked, that stuff fires me up."

Christian said he and Rebekah plan to be big parts of the community, being active whenever possible.

"We don't take our commitment to the community lightly," he said. "If I am getting groceries, and you want to come up and have a conversation about basketball, let's do it. We will be seen in the community.

"I was told during the interview process that Crossville is basketball community. I get chills thinking about that. I have always had the dream of coaching in a town where basketball is emphasized, and Crossville is that town."

The Goodwins will be introduced to the community on May 4 at 1 p.m. with a ceremony in the CCHS gymnasium. It is open to the public.