KNIGHTDALE — Athletics Director Guy Blough on Thursday announced changes in six head coaching positions at Knightdale High School.
The school will have new leaders for boys and girls varsity basketball, varsity cheerleading, cross country, varsity softball and varsity volleyball for the upcoming school year.
“It was a good time, with some people leaving, to shake things up in the program,” Blough said of the coaching changes.
Anthony Byrd, who most recently coached the varsity girls basketball team, will fill the vacancy created when veteran varsity boys coach Battle Watkins announced his departure from the school in May. Watkins accepted the role of athletics director at Carroll Middle School in the community where he and his family reside.
Byrd, who played college ball at Georgia Tech, is no new kid on the boys basketball block at Knightdale. He coached the junior varsity boys for six years prior to taking the reigns of the varsity girls team for the last three seasons.
“He’s been where kids want to be,” Blough said of Byrd. “This will be a change in style – nothing negative on Battle (Watkins) – that might be good for us.”
Filling Byrd’s former shoes with the varsity girls basketball team is Trent Bunn, who served as the junior varsity girls coach last season. Bunn’s experience includes coaching at the college Division I level at UNC-Wilmington.
“It was great having him as a junior varsity coach,” Blough said of Bunn. “I knew he would be the perfect guy to take over the girls program.”
Lauren Watkins, wife of Knightdale varsity wrestling coach Kenny Watkins, transferred to the school from Smithfield-Selma last winter and will oversee the Knights’ varsity cheerleading squad. She has several years of experience and is “very sharp,” according to Blough.
Watkins replaces Cathy Wills, who worked with the cheer teams at the school for six years.
A familiar face around Knightdale, Mark Batey is replacing seven-year cross country coach Michelle Johnson. Batey has been involved with the school since it opened, coaching in the basketball and tennis programs. He also served as the school’s resource officer.
Batey will also start his second term as an assistant coach in the track program in the next school year.
Morgan Barbour, who coached junior varsity softball in the spring, is set to take over where four-year coach Adam Hamrick is leaving off. Hamrick is relocating to Garner to man the offensive coordinator post for the Trojans football team.
“He was a huge loss, but having Morgan in the varsity program, we’re not going to miss a beat,” Blough said of the transition.
Barbour played softball for both Garner and N.C. State and is the daughter of Garner softball coach Moe Barbour.
Anna Gay, a two-year staffer at Knightdale, will taking on her first coaching job as she leads the varsity volleyball team in the fall. She replaces Sally Combs, who stepped down from the coaching position after five years.
“She played competitive volleyball in high school and she’s just full of energy,” Blough said of Gay. “What she lacks in experience she’s going to make up for in fire and work ethic.”