Enquirer Herald

Blackwell gearing up for middle school post, Nike speaking circuit

Paula Blackwell
Paula Blackwell

Former York Comprehensive High School girls’ basketball coach Paula Blackwell is excited about a new teaching job and a speaking circuit role.

Blackwell will teach physical education next fall at York Middle School, where she will coach seventh grade volleyball and serve as assistant track coach. She also will join the speaking circuit at high school basketball camps on behalf of Nike.

“Several college coaches I’ve worked with through the years have recommended me to participate in Nike basketball camps as a clinician,” said Blackwell.

“This summer, I will travel to various camps and talk to high school coaches about ways to build a successful program, how to fundraise and how to develop a base of contacts among college coaches and the community.”

Blackwell will cover topics including how to keep players hungry to learn, how to cope with players who have talent but not the desire and how to mediate between a parent and player.

She also will discuss how to handle the stress and demands of high school coaching.

“Nike will pay for my airfare, hotels and meals,” said Blackwell. “They have a clinic in October and one in April they plan to invite me to.”

Blackwell’s summer speaking engagements will include a high school camp at the University of Miami, where former UNCC coach Katie Meier heads the program.

“I am excited to get Paula on our campus to work with high school coaches and players who come to our team camp,” Meier said via email. “Everyone wants to be around her. She gives people a boost of confidence when they’re in her presence.”

Said Amanda Butler, University of Florida head coach: “High school coaches in the Gainesville area will get so much from Paula Blackwell on how to build and maintain a high school program and run it the right way.

“When York would roll in for camp at UNCC, the entire lobby would fill up and her passion for the game was infectious when she was around.”

Another former UNCC coach, Karen Aston, said: “What a sacrifice Paula has made for so many years. Now, I can reward her for those years of service and have her mentor our high school coaches. I know she will leave an impact at Texas this summer.”

Other coaches recommending Blackwell to Nike were Dawn Staley, USC; Sylvia Hatchell, UNC; Jim Davis, former Clemson coach now at Middle Tennessee State, and Andy Landers, longtime Georgia coach who recently retired.

Blackwell said she began her coaching career in college.

“I got out of it,” she said. “I didn’t like it. It was too unstable and moving around. The Nike speaking appearance kind of gives me a dose of it, but I still have the stability of my job in York.”

The former Lady Cougar varsity coach is ready for her new position at York Middle School.

“I appreciate the way the staff there has welcomed me,” Blackwell said. “It’s nice that people are using my experience and I’m not just put on the shelf over there.”

She said the next year at the middle school will allow her time to ponder what the future may bring. “I don’t want to make a knee-jerk decision,” she said. “There are a few jobs in this area that I would definitely apply for.

She added: “I don’t want to totally give up basketball. It has been my life and always will be. But I’m not gonna take any job just to get back into coaching the game. I want some time to myself and don’t want to live in a gym like I’ve been doing.”

Blackwell said she’s still attracted to the dome at York Middle School, the house that Ivory Latta built.

“I may go to the middle school and retire there,” she said. “I love that building and the dome, so many memories.”

Blackwell said she will remain close to the Lady Cougar varsity basketball players. “I will send a text to encourage them,” she said. “I want the girls to be successful.”

Blackwell admits to having mixed emotions about what the future might bring.

“If a job comes open and I get that excitement in my stomach, we’ll see,” she said. “I don’t know. I may never leave York.”