Anthony Carlyle is a Yazoo City veteran through and through. The legendary basketball coach just won his sixth basketball championship in ten years. He’s won four at Velma Jackson, one at Columbus, and his most recent at Yazoo City. It’s safe to say he’s been putting on for Yazoo City.
“I attended Yazoo City for two years and then Yazoo County my two two years where I graduated from in 2003,” said Coach Carlyle. “So it felt great getting this win. I was happy for the kids because I remember taking this job and being on the road playing and literally have five fans. So to see the turn out and the fans get behind these young men who are doing something positive was huge for our community.”
In his latest championship victory Coach Carlyle took down another young legend, Tony Tadlock and his Raymond Rangers. A team that was defending champs and have been to the state championship game seven years in a row. Coach Carlyle isn’t new to coaching. His dad was a coach, so he grew up around the game.
“I grew up around my dad while he was coaching, but I never really had a desire to coach. It wasn’t until I was playing basketball at Holmes Community College when I began to wonder what kind of coach I would be. I decided to major in Physical Education which was the easiest thing I could find so that I would be able to teach and coach. Once I got involved in it, I enjoyed it so much that I knew it was my calling and that I wanted to make a career out of it.”
Things weren’t always easy for Coach Carlyle at Yazoo City. One of his first seasons there his team only won nine games. Fans were barely showing up to games, and the kids didn’t have the winning mentality. With him having instant success in his career, it was hard for Carlyle to adjust and persevere forward.
“It was very hard turning the program around. The culture was really bad and everyone had a loser mentality. So you basically have to let all the older kids go and start to build the younger ones around how you want your team to look. Every year has been tough. When you are in a low economic school district you face a lot of challenges that you may not face at other schools. It has been several moments where I felt like walking away because sometimes you just get tired. It wasn’t until last summer where we began to feel like we had the right group of kids that would outweigh all the off the court challenges. They made you want to be there for them and be the coach you know they needed and they were the bright light to help me persevere through adversity. Just as much as they needed me, I needed them. We got a big transfer in Jermon Baymon to give us size and we knew we had the guard and wing play to compete. We just had to work and be coachable and these guys did that all year. They were champions in their day to day preparation long before that final horn sounded.”
Coach Carlyle was without a familiar face on the sideline last Thursday night. His dad, Archie Carlye, was absent this last game. He had some health issues that kept him from being in attendance. He is his son’s biggest supporter.
“He is just getting older. He had a stroke in January and a heart issue the week of our district tournament. Unfortunately it’s a part of life where you may have one health issue and it can create multiple ones with older age. He had been in the hospital and was in a rehab then to help with his mobility which is why he was unable to attend. That’s why I was emotional because it was so much I’ve held inside the last few months. He’s been my biggest supporter no matter where I’ve coached and I knew how much he wanted to see this program succeed. He was there when we only won nine games, so for him not to be there when we finally reached what was the ultimate goal was definitely tough, but I know he’s proud.”
Coach Carlyle has a very promising program. He has a lot to look forward to in Yazoo City.
“The program is the best it has been in a long time. My dad always told me when you take over a program, you always leave it better than when you found it. We’ve been able to do that at Velma Jackson, Columbus, and now Yazoo City. We basically have four starters returning with two of them being our leading scorers and rebounders. The last two middle school classes have won their championship in their league so we have some young guys that are developing and waiting on their opportunity. The program is headed in the right direction.”