Josey appoints Nichelle Chapman as new women’s basketball coach
It took the old Josey Girls Basketball head coach Jawan Bailey to talk about the importance of the lease the Eagles have made with their new program manager.
“Nobody knows better how to be a Lady Eagle than the former (twice) state champion herself,” Bailey said via Facebook. “It was my vote to be the next head coach, and (I’m) so happy that my wish came true. Josey still needs a coach who understands that you’re coaching the person and not the athlete.”
Chapman understands this because, much like Bailey, she understands Josey on a personal level. She was part of Josey’s two state championships, earning victories as a player in 1998 and another while on Bailey’s coaching staff during the state title campaign. 2020-21 season. Bailey left Josey in May after nine seasons at the helm to take over as head coach of the girls at Newton High (Covington). Bailey led the Eagles to the Class AA Final Four last season, losing to eventual state champion Elbert County.
Bailey says Chapman is the right person for the job because of how his heart is wired for the Josey kids.
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“She understands the community and the children who come with her,” he said. “She’s going to love these kids as her own, and that’s what matters most. They’re going to be a really good basketball team regardless, but the love and care she has for them will make them better people.”
Chapman’s also served as Josey’s head volleyball coach. But basketball is his first love, especially Josey’s basketball. And it’s that love that she hopes will drive away the anxieties that come with being the new face of a state championship program.
A talented roster should also help.
Despite the departure of senior stars like Ky’Shonna Brown (University of Jacksonville) and Aqoyas Cody (Virginia Union), Josey seems to remain fairly stacked with returning players such as senior Arieonna Booker, Ke’Asia Henderson and Jakayla Shorty.
The Eagles finished last season with a 24-6 record and a 13-1 mark in the 4-AA region with their only loss in the region to Laney.
Here are three reasons Chapman should be considered a home run hire.
Sometimes it’s considered “sexy” for a successful sports program at any level to go out and get the biggest and best name it can find when it comes to replacing its coach. But the truth is, staying in the house may be the best thing for a program if there’s already a viable candidate stalking the backstage. With Chapman sliding into the head coaching position, Josey maintains the wheels of a staff that knows what it takes to win in Class AA basketball and, more importantly, to win in Josey. Chapman, along with Jawan’s brother Jamal Bailey, will ensure that the key cogs of a state championship coaching staff remain intact. It is enormous.
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Knowledge of the program
The Augusta area basketball programs are different. Scratch that. High school sports in the Augusta area in general are different. While in some big cities, like metro Atlanta or somewhere comparable, it’s easier to bring the unfamiliar merchandise, in Augusta, so much relies on trust and familiarity. Change happens here, but often there needs to be a lot of buy-in before it can happen. Jawan Bailey has said it before, and it bears repeating: a school like Josey needs to have coaches who care sincerely enough that it’s easily noticeable by the players.
Winning in this area, especially in Richmond County, takes a lot of ingenuity, mastering the art of doing more with less and becoming more for the players than just a coach. Bailey has repeatedly said that he finds himself like a father figure to the girls he coaches. The fact that Chapman is a product of Josey gets that more than any other coach the Eagles could have named. She has been on staff since 2019. She has been in the community and around the school and the program for much, much longer. That kind of familiarity and understanding of the local culture is something you can’t teach a foreigner quickly. It’s also something Josey’s players already know about their new leader.
His personal passion
On Chapman’s Facebook page, she noted that she “saw the writing on the wall” about her eventually taking Jawan Bailey’s place. She spoke of the tears she cried during a phone conversation about the possibilities that awaited her. But she also spoke about her promotion with the kind of passionate humility that should let everyone know how seriously she takes the position.
“Hard shoes to fill, colossal act to follow,” she said on her page. “We will do our best to keep it going.” When you’re passionate about something, you’re much more likely to excel at it. Bailey mentioned her willingness to treat the Josey children as if they were her own. Coaching and running a program with that kind of mindset wins a lot more games than a lot of people realize.