A different sort of homecoming

Published 5:34 pm Friday, January 5, 2018

Greenville native Luke Hutcheson, the head coach for Morgan Academy’s junior varsity basketball team, is standing on the sidelines of the Fort Dale Academy gym, urgently yelling instructions at his players.

Though this is his first year as a coach at Morgan, he has, as a player wearing a Fort Dale uniform, stepped foot on this court many times before.

Led by Hutcheson, Morgan’s JV squad trounced Fort Dale, with a final score of 46-18. Hutcheson said that, although “it felt great to go back to Fort Dale and [see] a lot of familiar faces that impacted my life”, getting such a decisive win in his old gym, “where so many great memories were made,” was satisfying.

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Coaching has long been a dream for Hutcheson, representing an opportunity to use and pass on knowledge he accrued through years playing basketball to a new generation of competitors.

At Morgan, Hutcheson has been working with principal and coach Mark Knight to ingrain students and players with what he calls a “winning mentality” and create a new tradition of excellence.

“I enjoy just being out there competing again, and positively impacting my guys,” said Hutcheson.

The Morgan JV squad were aggressive offensively and defensively in the game against Fort Dale, utilizing full court press throughout the game, and rarely giving the Fort Dale team a chance to breathe.

Hutcheson says this style of play is exactly what he wants to impart to his players.

He attributes his coaching philosophy to influences from Fort Dale, saying “playing [football] for Coach Speed [Sampley] and [basketball for] Coach [William] Johnson… instilled an edge and toughness in me that I am working to implement into my style of coaching.” Hutcheson said, “and the athletic program at Morgan is about being mentally tough, moving the ball, aggression is really important… so you could definitely say playing at Fort Dale influenced my coaching.”

Teaching a JV squad has been challenging and fulfilling for the new coach. “I get to drill the fundamentals and teamwork into these kids now,” explained Hutcheson, “they already have the talent, and I get to watch them grow as a team with each game.”

Fort Dale principal David Brantley praised Hutcheson’s pursuit of coaching, even at a rival school. 

“Coaching is a very rewarding profession,” said Brantley, “and I believe he will care about his players and coach them well.”

Brantley said he considers it a “feather in Fort Dale’s cap” to see alumni among the new generation of educators.