Spivey resigns as Mercer girls basketball coach

Published 5:00 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

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Hayley Spivey didn’t plan on a career in coaching, and she didn’t plan on walking away from the sideline quite so soon.

A change of plans has taken Spivey away from coaching sooner than expected, as she announced her resignation as Mercer County’s girls basketball coach last week.

Spivey has stepped down after leading the Lady Titans for six seasons to pursue a doctoral degree.

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The opportunity to do so came along sooner than she expected, leading to her seemingly sudden decision to resign just before the start of her team’s summer schedule.

“I didn’t think this would be able to happen for a year or two, but I found a program at a different school and it’s going to be able to happen quicker than I anticipated,” Spivey said. “I really wasn’t planning on stepping away from coaching, but I felt like it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Spivey leaves Mercer with a 117-65 record. She took over the program in 2018, succeeding longtime coach Chris Souder after he led the Lady Titans to consecutive state championships in 2017 and ’18.

She led Mercer to a 12th Region championship in 2023 and her teams made two other appearances in the regional finals and won six 46th District titles.

She was voted The Advocate-Messenger Area Girls Basketball Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season after leading a team that lost three starters to an 18-14 record and its 16th straight district title.

Spivey, a 2008 Mercer graduate who played for Souder and worked under him as an assistant coach for six years before her promotion, said she wasn’t looking for a career in coaching, planning instead to go to law school after graduating from college.

She took a year off after graduation but went looking for a job at the urging of her parents and found work as a coach and substitute teacher that she came to love.

“That first year of coaching just changed my whole entire trajectory,” she said. “I’m grateful to Chris Souder for giving me that opportunity and preparing me to take over the role of head coach. It’s been such a blessing in my life.”

She is proud of her teams’ successes, but she said the wins aren’t what she will remember most about her time in coaching.

“The wins are great. Winning championships and competing with top teams in the state, that’s fun,” she said. “But the biggest takeaway is just the relationships that I got to build with my players. It’s just those relationships that you have with the players, and even with parents and others in the community and other coaches in the state.”

Spivey said it was difficult to tell her players about her decision, but she said their reaction made it easier.

“I’ve never seen a group of girls that have been more supportive, more mature and so incredibly sweet about the decision that I made,” she said.

She has spent more than 20 years in the Mercer program as a player and coach, and she said she will continue to support the Lady Titans in any way she can.

“Those roots go deep for me,” Spivey said.

Spivey plans to use her doctorate to pursue a career in school administration and perhaps to teach college courses as well. She said she found a program that would allow her to begin her coursework later this year.

“If I couldn’t give 100 percent to either one, school or basketball, I didn’t think that it was going to be fair,” she said. “I’m sad to be leaving coaching, but I’m also excited about the next step for me.”