Conder moving to Collins

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By Laura Clark

Girls’ head basketball Coach Phillip Conder is making the switch from Shelby County High School to  Collins High School next year.

Conder said family considerations and the opportunity to build a new program drove his decision to apply for the job.

Conder currently lives in New Albany, Ind., and has one young daughter and a son on the way.

“It’s just one of those things where it’s just going to get me a little closer to home,” he said. “It may not be a lot, but those 10 to 15 minutes can add up over the course of a season.”

Conder said he did not think much of his choice to move during this season, which finished with a 14-16 record and trip to the regional semifinals.

This was Conder’s first season as head coach. He previously was an assistant for two years for the boys’ team under Mike Clark and one year as an assistant under girls’ coach Sally Zimmerman.

After the season, Conder said he spoke at length with Zimmerman and Collins Principal Anthony Hatchell.

“The opportunity to start your own program, that’s an opportunity a lot of coaches don’t get,” Conder said. “It’s a unique opportunity to start your own program from day one.”

Conder currently teaches health and physical education at SCHS. He will likely just teach health at Collins for a few years. Joining the girls’ basketball coaching staff at Collins will be Charlie Matthews and William May.

Matthews was an assistant with the boys’ team. He’ll be a varsity assistant under Conder.

May will be moving from SCHS to Collins as well, and his main coaching role will be as an assistant football coach in charge of strength and conditioning. Conder said he possibly would be a volunteer coach with the girls’ program.

The hiring process is under way for the two more coaching positions, a junior varsity coach and freshman coach.

Conder said it is unclear which of his players will be going to Collins.

“I had a meeting with the girls the other day,” he said. “I told them they don’t have to tell me where they’re going. I just want them to be kids and not worry about where they’re going. June 1, when we start practice, we’ll see.”

In June, the players interested in coming out for the Collins team can begin playing summer basketball together. Then the week after Labor Day the team will begin strength and conditioning for the season.

Conder is also making preparations for his youth camp, which likely would be in late July or early August. If the gym at Collins is finished, the camp would be held there. If not, it could be at West Middle School.

The girls’ team may have to use West for some practice time as well if the middle school administration allows it, Conder said. He said he has been working with the new boys’ coach, Curtis Turley, on scheduling.

Soon, Conder will be meeting with WMS Coach Dana Smith to streamline the program and make sure they’re teaching the same things.

“He’s been pretty successful down there at West Middle School,” Conder said.

Conder also hopes to pick up on an earlier conversation he had with Smith about eighth- graders playing up.

“His opinion matters quite a bit,” Conder said. “Some of them could contribute on the junior varsity or possibly the varsity. I’ll let him be the judge of that.”

Conder said Shelby’s supportive administration made his time there all the more enjoyable.

“I really did love it at Shelby County,” he said. “I thank Coach Z and Mr. [Steve] Coleman [former athletic director] and others for giving me the opportunity to coach.”