Former South Lakes High assistants Irv Greene and Jon Kemmerer will run the boys’ basketball team as co-interim head coaches this upcoming winter season. The two were named to replace former head coach Darryl Branch last week.
Branch, who was head coach for the last two years, was fired last week over an issue unrelated to basketball. A longtime South Lakes assistant before being named head coach of the program in May of 2007, Branch, a 1989 graduate of the Reston school, led the Seahawks to 17-6 and 14-9 records during his two seasons in charge of the Seahawks.
Despite the winning records, South Lakes failed to qualify for the 16-team Northern Region tournament in either season as a result of consecutive first round Liberty District tournament losses.
Greene and Kemmerer were selected to run the team by Linda Jones, the South Lakes director of student activities.
“We have to sit down and figure out how we’ll do it,” said Greene, of dividing head coaching responsibilities with Kemmerer. “It will be different. I think it’s going to work. We’ve worked together the last nine years.”
Both were part of Wendell Byrd’s staff when the legendary coaching figure was at the helm of South Lakes. Greene, in fact, was with Byrd at South Lakes from 1989 through 1992 as well as 1997 through 2007. From 1993 through 1996 Greene was head coach of the Oakton High boys’ team.
Byrd, during his 23 years as the South Lakes head coach, led the Seahawks to six region crowns. He stepped down following the 2006-’07 season and was eventually replaced by Branch.
Greene, earlier this week, said he had not talked to the South Lakes team members yet, but was planning to do so. He said he and Kemmerer want to work together to make the coaching transition as easy as possible for the entire program.
“It’s a very awkward situation, but a situation we’ll make work for the kids,” said Greene. “We were shocked when [Branch was dismissed]. We want to make sure we do everything for the kids.”
South Lakes plans on opening up the head coaching position again following the 2009-’10 season in order to bring in a head coach for the long term. Both Greene and Kemmerer, one would imagine, would be among the pool of candidates if they would wish to be.
Because of the timing of Branch’s firing, the South Lakes administration had little time to go through a thorough job interviewing process. Therefore, it was determined that the vacancy would go to someone who was already familiar with the program. That `someone’ turned out to be two people – Greene and Kemmerer.
“We were in the program already,” said Greene, who said training camp for the new season begins on Nov. 16.
Kemmerer, a 1994 South Lakes graduate, was the Seahawks’ starting point guard under Byrd during his senior season (1993-’94). Greene, as part of Byrd’s staff, spent a few years coaching Kemmerer.
“Jon was a heady, smart and smooth player,” recalled Greene. “He didn’t make a lot of mistakes at point guard.”
Greene said he recently spoke to Byrd, whom the South Lakes gymnasium is named after, about the recent upheaval of the program. Byrd, Greene said, encouraged him to take care of the players and the program as a whole.”