- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Joe Chandler
Larry Epperly will soon be a very busy man. Epperly, a former East Carolina University assistant basketball coach and long-time college coach, has been named the new head varsity boys basketball coach at Halifax County High School.
The announcement of the hiring of Epperly was made yesterday during an early-morning press conference at Halifax County High School.
“We’re just going to take it one day at a time,” Epperly said.
“It’s going to be a real busy time early because you have to try to build a relationship with the players, learn what they can do, try to get their values in the right place.”
Epperly recognizes he has a lot of work ahead of him, but he is excited about the opportunity to coach at Halifax County High School.
“I love teaching basketball,” Epperly said.
“It’s always exciting to take over a new program and see if you can make a difference. It will be fun to see if we can get this program moving and compete for some regional and state championships. It will also be fun to see if I can make a difference, not only in winning games, but also in helping kids in general.”
Epperly, 59, comes to Halifax County High School after having served as interim head women’s basketball coach at Averett University last season.
“We are very pleased to bring someone with his expertise and background in basketball into our program,” said Halifax County High School Principal Albert Randolph.
“We have brought someone in that can take the program andremain with us at least three to five years and bring some continuity to the program. In talking with him, he appears to be someone that is committed to a community and has the ability to work with all children to bring about a strong program for us.”
Epperly will teach Health and Physical Education at Halifax County High School.
Under Virginia High School League rules, there is a two-week “dead period” during the start of each sports season in which coaches cannot communicate with or recruit prospective players to try out for a team.
With the so-called “dead period,” Epperly will not be able to communicate with prospective players until after students return to school to start the new school year.
In the meantime, Epperly and school officials will be working to put together a basketball coaching staff for the coming season.
“That’s something we will be working on over the next couple of weeks leading up to the point at which he can communicate with the student athletes,” noted Halifax County High School Athletic Director Allen Lawter.
A teacher of fundamentals
Epperly says he is a coach that emphasizes the importance of the basic fundamentals of basketball.
“I’m just a teacher of fundamentals,” Epperly pointed out.
“I try to get kids to do the right things. You hear in today’s terminology “play the right way.” You try to get kids to play the right way, understand the value of shot selection, taking care of the ball, rebounding the boards, those kids of things. We’re talking about solid basketball.
“If, as a teacher, you can get kids to value those things, then you have a chance,” continued Epperly.
“If you don’t get them to buy in, it makes for a pretty long season.”
The hiring of a philosophy
The new Comets coach pointed out that when a school hires a coach of his age and experience level it is basically hiring a specific philosophy.
“This is how I want to do things, and this is the way you want to get kids to act, behave and do certain things,” he explained.
“I have a system I believe in and a culture that I want to try to establish. I think sometimes when you hire a young coach they’re not too sure about what they want to do. But, with me, I have an idea about what I want to do.
“You want to establish your culture and you want to get people on the same page with what you believe in,” added Epperly.
“Whether Halifax County was playing for a state championships last year or whether we’re starting at the beginning, it really doesn’t matter. You come to work every day. You try to get your kids to understand the value of getting better on a daily basis. Then you play the games and give it your best shot.”
Epperly said he is going to work hard to try to elevate the Halifax County High School basketball program.
“I think good teachers are able to motivate kids to do the right things, and be excited about playing, and that’s what I’m going to try to do,” Epperly pointed out.
“One of my strengths through the years has been team-building, taking guys and getting them all on the same page, valuing the same things and playing together.”
With his many years of experience coaching at the college level, Epperly brings to the program an understanding of what it takes to develop players for the college ranks.
“I bring a different perspective,” he noted.
“I understand what it takes for kids to get to college and that will be exciting to see if you can develop guys. It’s a challenge, but I look at it as being a lot of fun.”
No difference in the teaching
While Epperly has spent much of his career as a college coach, he insists that there is little difference between coaching on the high school level and the college level.
“Teaching basketball is teaching basketball,” he said.
“I can honestly say that because I’ve done both. When we would run summer camps it’s for high school kids. You’re working with high school kids two or three weeks out of the summer. Those kids actually have a little more hunger to learn the game than the guys you have in college. Even though you’re at the college level, on Tuesdays and Fridays you’re going into high school gyms, you’re watching high school games, you’re working with those kids during the summer. It’s not that big a difference.”
The Epperly file
2010-2011: Interim head women’s basketball coach at Averett University
2007-2010: Assistant Basketball Coach East Carolina University
1997-2007: Head Basketball Coach, Athletic Director, Physical Education Teacher at Limestone College, Gaffney, S.C.
1987-1997: Head Basketball Coach, Associate Athletic Director, Physical Education Teacher at University of South Carolina – Aiken
1986-1987: Assistant Basketball Coach - Virginia Commonwealth University
1985-1986: Assistant Basketball Coach, Physical Education Teacher –James Madis
1981-1985: Assistant Basketball Coach – University of Richmond
1978-1981: Assistant Basketball Coach – Ohio University
1975-1978: Head Basketball Coach, Physical Education Teacher – Allegheny County High School
1 NCAA Tournament Appearance
2 NIT Appearances
1 Coach of the Year Award
4 Conference Championships
2 NAIA Conference Finals
5 20-plus win seasons
95 percent graduation rate