GRANITEVILLE — A new era of Midland Valley basketball began Thursday with the introduction of the Mustangs' two new head basketball coaches at a ceremony at Jean Johnson Gymnasium.
Marcus Diggs is taking over as the new boys' coach, and Zakeya Goldsberry will coach the girls.
"It's a wonderful opportunity, especially in a growing community," said Diggs. "Even though we've been down the last few years, the tradition is there. The talent is there. We just have to move things in the right direction again."
It's a homecoming for Diggs, and he's plenty familiar with the Mustangs' program and the area. Most of his coaching experience has been across the Savannah River in Gwinnett County at the Class AAAAAAA level, which he feels has prepared him well to bring success to Midland Valley.
Goldsberry's coaching experience is more local – in the same region, no less. A teacher at Midland Valley, she spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach to Al Young at powerhouse North Augusta, with previous stops in Georgia at Thomson and Westminster Schools of Augusta.
"Immediately, I'm just overly excited. I've been in here as a teacher, and just loving basketball – I'm just excited," she said. "As a teacher and getting to work with the kids, to share my passion with my students just makes a tremendous difference. I just look forward to the new era, just kind of getting on a different path from where the basketball program has been in the last few years."
Both coaches addressed the fans and future players in attendance about their desire to return Midland Valley basketball to its previous winning ways. Diggs reminded them that a state championship in 2015 and a runner-up the following season weren't that long ago, nor was the girls' last region championship at the same time.
"It's a process. We're starting with a program that hasn't seen a lot of success, at least in the last two years," said Goldsberry. "For me, it's about foundation and skill development. I want to establish a program that is fundamentally sound, first and foremost. Our theme this year will be 'Achieving through hoops'. We're gonna jump through hoops to get the girls where they need to be to be successful, on and off the court."
Success is always an important factor toward putting fans in the seats, and Diggs said he wants to work on making the program appealing for people to come to the gym and be part of it. Some of that includes getting members of those championship teams to come back as a reminder that it can be done – and yes, winning never hurts.
The way Diggs plans for the Mustangs' boys to do that is by playing physical basketball.
"We're gonna be a defensive-minded team. We'd rather win a game 44-40 rather than 98-90," he said. "We want to be defense first. We want to be a physical, hard-nosed team. When people come and play us, whether they win or lose they're gonna know that we played them hard and they felt our presence."