King George High School athletic director Alex Fisher noticed the Foxes’ basketball players and parents growing weary of change.
The Foxes experienced three different coaches in a three-year span as Darren Berkley, Craig Boothe and Anthony Mills moved on to Massaponax, Chancellor and Colonial Forge, respectively.
A fourth King George coach since 2015 is set to take the reins. The county School Board approved the Foxes’ hiring of former Caroline and Washington & Lee football coach Antron Yates Monday night.
Yates remains a teacher at Caroline but lives in King George. He aims to bring much-needed stability to the Foxes’ sideline.
“What we’ve discovered is, especially for our seniors and juniors, is that the kids and parents don’t know what to expect from one year to the next,” Fisher said.
“Basketball is basketball and some things don’t change, but there is enough that does change whether it’s a set of rules or an offense or a defense. We were seeking someone who can work with the kids consistently and that’s what we’re hoping we can get with Antron.”
Yates spent the previous six years as a head football coach. He directed his alma mater, W&L, from 2012-13 as the Eagles went 12-12. He took over at Caroline in 2014 and guided the Cavaliers to four wins in four seasons. He resigned after the 2017 campaign and was unsure of his next move.
That was until Mills stepped down after a 3–18 season with the Foxes.
“At some point and time in your life you question what your purpose is and as a man of faith, God made it very clear and evident to me that my purpose is still to be around and coach kids,” Yates said.
“As I move around to different places at different times he’s putting me in certain positions for certain reasons. I did what I was supposed to do at Caroline, and with the way this job opened up, it was a perfect situation.”
Yates served as the King George Middle School basketball coach for three seasons several years ago. He had a one-year stint as the Foxes’ junior varsity coach in 2008 and guided them to the Battlefield District title game. That season he also served as the interim varsity head coach while Jeff Smith underwent hip surgery.
Yates, who also had a stint as the JV coach at C.D. Hylton, said he’s eager to return to basketball. He knows many of his prospective players because his son, a rising freshman, played with them in youth leagues. Yates has also served as a parks & recreation referee in King George.
Yates said the Foxes will be built on defense and scoring in transition. King George graduated leading scorer and rebounder Jaylen Stepney, a four-year starter, 1,000-point career scorer and first-team All-Area performer.
But despite potential personnel challenges, Yates is confident he’s in the right spot and Fisher believes he won’t be searching for another coach this time next year.
“I think that’s huge,” Fisher said of the stability Yates can bring. “With the past few coaches we just haven’t had that. They can’t be here to run into the kids at Food Lion or Walmart and checking on how things are going on any given day. Those guys showed up at practice and to the games and they did a great job. But sometimes it’s about that little bit extra.”