Here is a profile piece on NCHSAA Champion Coach Billy Anderson
Anderson is fitting in just fine
A 14-year-old freshman nervously walked up to the practice range. It was his first day of golf practice, a sport he had only taken up just a few months prior.
His game was not pretty.
Yet, his anxiety and nerves would soon disappear, thanks to his coach.
That freshman was me.
The coach was Billy Anderson. Now known for his success with East Carteret’s boys’ basketball team, and rightfully so, only a select few remember Andersons’ stint as the boys’ golf coach.
For those of us who played under him, it was a great run. However, it wasn’t nearly as great of a run as the one he’s experiencing now as the head basketball coach.
Maybe because the golf team never won a state title.
Admittedly this was partially my fault. I wasn’t a very good golfer. Nobody on the team was- no offense to any of my former teammates.
While I did almost qualify for state competition my senior year, a state title was never in the realm of possibilities. I’m sure many people thought the same thing about the basketball program at East Carteret.
Billy Anderson proved them wrong.
“When I first got here we didn’t even have JV uniforms,” Anderson told me. “We were having to go in and switch uniforms after the JV game.”
I sat down with Coach Anderson in a hurried interview back in early April. I had to get back to App State later that day, which meant a six-hour-drive.
East Carteret was on spring break, meaning Anderson had the week off. Being a good friend, he met with me anyway to conduct an interview when I clearly wasn’t on the top of my game. In it we discussed what his assessment was when he first arrived.
“I saw a lot of potential, there were a lot of good athletes here,” Anderson said. “The football team was successful, and anytime you’ve got athletes that are successful, that can translate. There just wasn’t anybody putting time in the gym then.”
Well they certainly are now.
There were certainly struggles within East Carteret’s basketball program before Anderson arrived in 2008.
In 2005, the boys’ team didn’t win a single game. The year before Andersons’ arrival they only won four. After just two years of Andersons’ tenure, they had a winning record, a feat they’ve accomplished now for five straight years. They’ve also made two straight appearances in the 1A state championship game, ending this season as the kings of North Carolina.
After the heartbreaking defeat in the state title game the year before, I asked Coach Anderson what it was like, hearing the buzzer hit, having exacted revenge on Winston-Salem Prep and capturing the state title in historic Carmichael Arena by a score of 67-64.
“To be honest with you, the first thing that hit me was relief,” said Anderson. “These last two years these kids have been kind of knocking on the door. Last year we lost at the buzzer in the state championship, and it was kind of one of those things that, they all just had a lot of pressure on their backs, because everyone expected them to go back and expected us to have an undefeated season, so the main thing was just relief.”
Relief, and then joy.
“The second thing was just to see how happy those kids were,” he added. “To see the community support, it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life.”
There was even dancing.
“They, the players (sic), even made me dance a little bit, which I’m not a good dancer,” deadpanned Anderson. “I hope nobody has that recorded.”
I think I speak for everybody from eastern Carteret County when I say, please, somebody come forward with that video.
Despite the success, Anderson doesn’t plan on moving on. I asked Anderson if he had received any calls from other programs, and what thought he had put in to them.
“Anytime you have some success, which we’ve had some here the last five years we’ve started to make some noise, we’ve had some other calls but I don’t have any interest in coaching high school basketball anywhere else,” Anderson replied.
“There’s a lot of things that go into deciding if you have a good job or not in high school basketball coaching,” He said. Anderson would go on to say he believes he’s got one of the best jobs in the state.
“One if you’re administration is good and you work with them real well, two is the quality of living where you live, three is if you have the athletes to win. We figured out in the four hundred some high schools, this is one of the top five or ten jobs in the state when you consider all those things.”
“I can’t figure another school that would be better for me than this,” Anderson added.
In short, Anderson can’t see he or his wife moving any time soon.
“It sounds cliché but our situation is kind of perfect for what we do,” said Anderson. “In our situation, I just don’t want to go anywhere.”
The community doesn’t want him to go anywhere either. I don’t want him to either, he still makes a good golf partner, even if I did get the better of him in our most recent outing.
“I think the last time something was wrong with me, you beat me, so I’ve got to redeem myself.”
I couldn’t resist, I had to brag.
Even still, Coach Anderson is a winner. Now with a state championship to show for it, his efforts over the past several seasons have really brought the community together.
The community traveled well to witness the state championship game, showing a lot of pride in what this team has been able to do.
A program that went winless in 2005, and without JV uniforms upon his arrival is now at the top of North Carolina basketball, thanks in large part to the effort Anderson has put in.
I think he can afford to lose a few round of golf.