Cummings starting hot as Jackets’ coach
Crystal Cummings didn’t really plan to be a varsity girls’ basketball coach in the largest classification in South Carolina public school athletics. In fact, when she applied for a job at North Augusta High School, the Augusta State grad was in the market to be a physical education teacher and not necessarily at the high school level.
Then Crystal Bush, a PE teacher at North Augusta Middle School and one of Cummings’ masters-level classmates, told Cummings about a PE opening at North Augusta High School.
While she hadn’t intended to teach high-schoolers, she contacted the school about the opening anyway.
“When I called, they asked me if I had any coaching experience,” Cummings said.
She did, but as a volunteer coach at the Family Y. Despite a lack of varsity-level experience, Cummings had a strategy that she had outlined for a paper while getting her master’s degree. In it, she described her “defense-minded” game plan that centers around man-to-man defense.
Cummings said that, in watching basketball at all levels including high school ball, a majority of the teams she saw ran a zone defense. Because of that, she figured most teams’ normal offensive sets would be geared toward attacking a zone defense.
“Some plays that work with man defense don’t work with man defense because of rotation,” Cummings reasoned.
Her strategy also dictates that the team “will press the majority of the game,” and it must have struck a chord with the NAHS administration.
“From there, they offered me the job, and I’ve been working on it ever since,” Cummings said.
The hiring decision, while perhaps a bit outside the norm, has paid off so far. The Yellow Jackets are 4-1 so far and have beaten Evans and Lakeside twice each, both out of the Georgia side of the Augusta area.
While the solid start is certainly pleasant, it has by no means been a surprise to Cummings. She said she knew the Jackets were a good squad after returning several players from last year’s Region 5-AAAA third-place team, but she obviously couldn’t know what her opponents were going to be able to do.
“I kind of expected it,” she said. “I got handed a very good team with great work ethic.”