Tennille and the Professor making a difference at WH

Tennille and the Professor making a difference at WH

A few thoughts from the week in sports …

The West Holmes boys basketball team was at one of its lowest points in program history on Jan. 6.

The Knights were 0-9, and head coach Seth Martin resigned as head coach prior to a loss at Lexington that night.

A mid-season coaching change is extremely rare in the high school ranks, but an unlikely duo now has West Holmes singing a winning tune.

Call them The Captain and Tennille.

Actually, make that Tennille and The Professor.

Tennille (Turner) Cline, a 1995 West Holmes graduate, was named the interim head coach on Jan. 6 and has guided the Knights to a 2-3 record. She’s believed to be the first female to be a boys basketball head coach in the Wayne-Holmes area.

Bruce Martin, who Cline refers to as The Professor, was coaxed out of retirement to help as a varsity assistant. The 70-year-old Martin could just as easily be dubbed Captain, Guru, Sage or any other nickname that pays tribute to his vast knowledge about basketball and life in general.

A 59-52 win over Indian Valley on Jan. 10 lifted a huge weight off the shoulders of the West Holmes team and earned Cline her first varsity coaching win.

The Knights took it to another level by beating Wooster 56-37 on the Generals’ home floor for their first Ohio Cardinal Conference win on Jan. 20.

West Holmes, which led by as many as 21 points, was paced by Zevin Proper (15 points, four assists), Zander Shultz (14 points) and Mason Wolfe (12 points, seven rebounds).

“That first win felt really good, and it was kind of the monkey off their back, telling them, ‘Hey, you guys can do this,’” said Cline, who had been the boys JV coach.

West Holmes continued to make progress but then had tough losses against good teams from Mount Vernon and Garaway.

“We asked them if they were ready to right this ship (against Wooster), and they took it to heart,” Cline said.

One of Cline’s best moves after taking over the program was coaxing Martin out of retirement.

Martin was an assistant coach at The College of Wooster for 26 years before “retiring” in 2020 and has 46 years of coaching experience. His grandson Brayden Chaney also is a West Holmes assistant and took over the JV job.

“We had a team meeting (Jan. 10) and said, ‘We're all on the same page, we're busting forward and here's what we're gonna do,’” Cline said. “Then I said to Brayden, ‘We need to get another coach on board. Could you talk to your grandfather?’”

Chaney was skeptical if grandpa Bruce would return to coaching, but everyone was thrilled when he said “yes.”

“He’s a huge asset,” Cline said. “He is The Professor. He's been around basketball for so long. He knows every nuance to it. I'm really skill-oriented, focused on fundamental basketball, and he's also big on the little things, and I love that.”

Cline has an outstanding basketball resume in her own right. She was an All-Ohio player and helped two girls teams coached by Jack Van Reeth reach the state tournament in the mid-1990s. She’s coached the current junior class, which includes her son Collier Cline (seven points against Wooster), since they were in third grade. She also coached her since-graduated daughter Callie as a youth player.

“I've known Tennille for a long time, since she was a senior in high school, and she was always a great player,” Martin said. “What has amazed me coming back and helping is her knowledge of the game and the respect the guys give her. She’s coached a lot of them since they were in third grade, and they realize that she knows what she's talking about.”

Wolfe, who was a Mr. Football finalist as the quarterback for West Holmes’ 12-1 football team, went from first to worst in the OCC in a matter of months. However, he said Cline has the Knights basketball team believing in itself once again.

“It was definitely weird and something we haven't been through before, but our program has benefited from the change and we're turning the season around,” Wolfe said. “We came together the next day (after the change), and she just taught us to believe in ourselves, that if we have the right mindset, we’re gonna win.”

Sports can teach lots of life lessons, and the Knights are getting an advanced class in dealing with adversity.

“Basically, just stick to it, fight and get through everything,” Wolfe said. “Once you fight through adversity, stuff gets better. You just have to give it time.”

Martin said, "Life is going to be ups and downs, and they were in the downs. Now they're starting to see there’s an opportunity to climb this mountain. This is a huge thing for them, not only for basketball, but to teach them about life."

And Martin is still learning himself: to never say never. “I knew it was my swan song with coach (Steve) Moore at Wooster, but then all of a sudden, this pops up. It’s a great opportunity.”

Cline is making the most of an opportunity she would have never envisioned. She’s proving sometimes the best man for a job is a woman.

“They're such a good group, and they're so tight,” Cline said. “There's no quit in these kids.”

Asked if she’d like to be the varsity coach next season, Cline replied with a smile, "I'm just getting us through this year."

“I don't know what the future holds,” said Cline, who’s a nurse for the Holmes County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “West Holmes has a good youth program, and we're running things through our junior high program. Hopefully, it attracts someone that really wants to come here and do some good work, but we'll worry about that after the season.”

Parting shots

I love the hiring of Jim Schwartz as the Browns defensive coordinator. Schwartz has a reputation of not only coming up with winning schemes, but also being able to motivate and hold players accountable.

—Here’s some news to look forward to: The Cleveland Guardians pitchers and catchers will report to spring training in Goodyear, Arizona on Feb. 17.

Tito Francona, who led the team to a 92-70 playoff season in 2022, will start his 11th season as Cleveland’s manager. He’s had a winning record in nine of his 10 seasons. Hopefully, people give the Cleveland baseball team — the city’s best pro organization — the attention it deserves in 2023.

Aaron Dorksen can be emailed at AaronDorksen24@gmail.com.

Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load