Tyler Sanders feels like he’s taking the torch from his big brother.
On Friday, the 27-year-old Sanders, a five-year assistant coach for the North Hall boys basketball program, was promoted to the head coaching job by principal Joe Gheesling. He takes over for now-former Trojans coach Benjie Wood, who on March 21 took the boys basketball coaching position at Flowery Branch. Sanders spent his first five years coaching at the school under Wood’s guidance.
The new North Hall coach was a 14-year-old freshman at Johnson High when Wood started as Lady Knights basketball coach in 2000.
Ever since, Sanders says that himself and Wood, a man he’s known now for almost half of his life, have had a big brother and little brother relationship.
“I’m very appreciative of everything that Benjie’s done here at North Hall and taught me as a coach,” Sanders said. “I really can’t thank him enough.”
Sanders said he met with Gheesling immediately to express his interest in the job when Wood announced he was leaving eight days ago. He said he’ll run a fundamentally similar system to Wood, but will start mapping out any changes he would like to make for next season during spring break.
“Once we get back from spring break, we’ll be ready to get going,” Sanders said.
The role of being a head basketball coach is one Sanders strived for since starting his career as an educator. He didn’t know that it would come at such a young age.
“This is an amazing opportunity and I couldn’t ask to be head coach at a better place than North Hall,” Sanders said.
Sanders takes over at North Hall after a very successful run under Wood. In 2013, the Trojans finished 28-4 and advanced to the Class AAA state semifinals for the second time in four years.
North Hall’s coach knows there will be a heavy turnover in player personnel with seniors Ebo Smith, Griffin Olson and Adam Kelly all graduating.
However, Sanders returns players that experienced ample playing time, including Avery Cagle, Thomas Marchman, Matt Booth and Brock Wingo, in addition to some younger players expected to make the leap up to the varsity level.
“Just like with coach Wood, I expect our kids to play extremely hard and do things the right way,” Sanders said.