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When Candice Wiley first joined the Shelby County High School girls’ golf team as a precocious fourth-grader, Amy Head was a senior on the squad.
“I looked up to her,” Wiley said.
As it turned out that relationship has come in handy many years later.
In fact it’s a major reason why Wiley will begin coaching college golf in a couple of weeks.
Saturday Wiley, a former state champion for the Rockets and a recent graduate of the University of Louisville (where she also played golf), accepted a position as the assistant men’s and women’s coach at the University of West Alabama in Livingston, Ala. The Tigers’ athletic teams compete in NCAA’s Division II (UWA also has men’s and women’s rodeo teams), but this fall will be the first season for their new golf program.
“I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to it,” Wiley said Wednesday night after caddying for boyfriend, Daniel Iceman (the new Collins boys’ golf coach) in the Kentucky Open in Bowling Green.
Wiley, who received her Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Education and Human Development in May, had planned to attend graduate school and assist Anna Simpson with the Shelby County team this fall. However she ran into Head’s father, Randy, recently and he told her that West Alabama – near where his daughter now lives – was looking for a golf coach.
So Wiley applied for the position, primarily viewing it as a backup plan in case she didn’t get into grad school. A short time later, though, Wiley found out she did get into graduate school at Louisville, so she decided to rescind her application.
A call from Head, however, changed her mind.
Wiley then had a phone interview with UWA before an in-person interview last week (even a flat tire near Nashville couldn’t derail her) in Livingston, which is about an hour southwest of Tuscaloosa and an hour and a half north of Mobile.
Wiley said that Head “got me down there and made me fall in love with the town.”
West Alabama officially extended Wiley a job offer last Thursday, and she accepted Saturday, before heading to Weissinger Hills Golf Course for Shelby County’s Lady Rockets Classic.
Wiley will be the lone assistant coach for both teams (Adam Buie is the head coach for both squads) this season and said down the road there could be a possibility that each team will have its own head coach.
Wiley said she will leave for West Alabama on Aug. 20. The team’s first day of practice is Aug. 22, and the Tigers’ first invitational (the Smokey Mountain Intercollegiate) is slated to start Sept. 7.
“I’ll get down there just in time to get started,” she said.
Wiley, who said she plans to concentrate only on coaching in the fall semester before beginning graduate classes in the spring semester, said she liked the idea of joining a first-year program.
“It was one of my main reasons for taking the job,” she said. “It’s a first-year program so there are really no expectations to begin with…plus it’s good to get my foot in the [coaching] door. “
Even if it does provide her with mixed emotions.
“I’m nervous and excited at the same time,” Wiley said. “But I’ve had a lot of experience in college and high school, and I think I’ve been coached well enough that I can translate it to other players.”
Wiley said, however, she wouldn’t leave her old team high and dry, considering a couple of current Rockets joined the team as grade-school students when she was finishing up her high school career.
“They have my cell phone number; they can call me if they need me,” she said.
Who knows when those relationships could come in handy? Just ask Wiley.