Things were good at Garrard for the former Jenny Teater, who was The Kentucky Advocate Female Athlete in 1994 and returned to coach the Lions from 2003-06. But they are also good at Taylor, where her team snapped a string of losing seasons last year and where the game is starting to grow at the grass-roots level.
This is Jessie’s fifth season at Taylor, and her third year as head coach, and she is starting to put her stamp on the program.
“The best part has been just settling in and (it) becoming my team, getting to know the girls and being able to enjoy them,” she said.
The Cardinals reached a milestone last year when they went 15-13 for only their second winning season in the last 11 years, and Jessie said she thinks it’s a sign of a changing basketball culture.
“It’s kind of changing, and we’re bringing the girls around and they’re recognizing that they deserve to win and they deserve to be in that spot,” she said.
The Cardinals won their first five games this season, and they stood at 8-3 after going 2-2 last week in the Kentucky Army National Guard Titan Christmas Clash at Mercer County.
“We’ve got a senior-led team. They’ve been playing together for a while, they seem to work really well together, and they’re having a good time this year,” Jessie said. “For the first part of the year we’ve been playing well together, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep it up.”
Jessie went 42-40 in three seasons at Garrard, where she was the first former player to coach the Lions, before getting married and moving to Campbellsville in 2006. She is 36-29 at Taylor, where she said support for the team is growing.
“The last few years we’ve had some really good boys teams, and the crowds have started coming to our games and staying and watching. They take their basketball pretty seriously,” she said.
Jessie played for Campbellsville University, but she said she had to learn her way around as a permanent resident.
“I was comfortable with the university; it’s just a different spot going from the university and knowing those people to getting involved in the community. It’s a good place to be,” she said.
She said she still keeps tabs on how Garrard and its coach, longtime friend Scott Bolin, are doing.
“Every now and then I’ll go (online) and look and see how Scott and the girls are doing,” she said. “We e-mail every now and then. A lot of those girls that are playing now, they were playing in the little league program when Scott and I got involved with it at the high school, and it’s fun to see those girls (now).”
But Jessie is fully invested in Taylor, where she and husband Scott are raising their 16-month-old son, Jace, and where she has gotten involved with girls basketball at every level from the high school, middle school and AAU teams to a newly created youth program.
“We started a little league program in Taylor County this year with girls, and we had about 65 girls involved in that, so we’re pleased with that,” she said.
“It’s two different spots, and there are pros and cons on both, but I’ve enjoyed it there.”