Kenrick Liburd, who coached the Washington Academy of East Machias boys basketball team to the No. 1 seed in Eastern Maine Class C last winter, has resigned to accept a position as women’s basketball coach at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Liburd interviewed for the job early last week and soon after was offered the chance to coach the Crusaders, who compete in the National Christian College Athletic Association.
“I had made the decision that if I was going to go into college basketball that I wanted to coach women’s teams,” said Liburd, who has guided MBR girls’ basketball teams to state AAU championships each of the last two years, a 14-and-under team in 2008 and a 15-and-under team this year.
“I’m 29 years old now, and this is a great opportunity to get into college coaching.”
Liburd also will coach women’s volleyball at Tennessee Temple, as well as teach business classes.
“Kenrick’s well-rounded coaching experience in addition to his recruiting contacts will help us accomplish what is needed in both sports,” said Temple Christian director of athletics John Secord in a prepared statement Tuesday. “With the energy and excitement shown by Kenrick during the search process I am confident we have the right person to lead the charge.”
The move also reunites Liburd with former University of Maine at Machias coach Randy Lee, who this spring became the Tennessee Temple men’s basketball coach after four years at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas.
Lee went to UMM after a stint as boys varsity basketball coach at Orono High School. Liburd was a player at UMM, but a torn Achilles tendon ended his career prematurely, so he served as an assistant coach under Lee during the 2004-05 season.
Lee coached both the men’s and women’s teams that winter, and four times when there were schedule conflicts Liburd coached the women’s team — and the Clippers won all four games.
“That gave me an inkling that I’d like to coach women’s basketball some day,” said Liburd, a native of London, England, who graduated from UMM in 2005 with a degree in business.
Liburd first got into AAU coaching that summer, then became boys varsity basketball coach at Narraguagus of Harrington during the 2005-06 season.
He took over at Washington Academy the following year and led the Raiders to a 40-16 record over the last three seasons, including 17-1 last winter.
WA reached the preliminary round of the Eastern C playoffs in 2007, then advanced to the regional semifinals in both 2008 and 2009.
A solid nucleus, led by guards Ben Teer and Noah Von Rotz, is expected back for the Raiders next season, when Washington Academy again is expected to be among the top teams in their division.
“Everyone was real excited for me,” said Liburd of the reaction he got from his WA players when he told them of his decision. “They’ve got 10 boys coming back from a team that went 17-1 last season, so the program is going in the right direction. I was just a cog in the wheel.”
Tennessee Temple went 18-10 last sason, but Liburd is looking forward to building on that winning record.
“It’s fair to say it’s a rebuilding year,” said Liburd, whose recruiting base will begin with the 11 million people who live within a two-hour radius of the campus, but which he hopes will extend much farther — even to Maine.
“I’m definitely looking for players.”
He also expects his relationship with Lee to be an asset as both coaches adapt to their new environs.
“We’ve worked together before, and I think we’re a good team,” said Liburd.
“It should be a good partnership for both programs.”