WOODSTOCK – Members of Massanutten Military Academy’s postgraduate basketball team said they were shocked to learn former head coach Chad Myers was leaving to take another job just days before players were scheduled to report to campus for the upcoming school year.
Myers, who built MMA’s postgrad team into one of the nation’s best, revealed on Thursday that he had accepted the head coaching job at IMG Academy in Florida and was not returning to coach the Colonels for the 2019-20 season. Myers’ announcement came a day before MMA’s postgrad players reported to the school on Friday afternoon.
Massanutten’s postgrad program remains intact, and newly assigned head coach Curtis Peery, an assistant under Myers last season and the school’s athletic director for the 2018-19 school year, said the prospect of canceling the upcoming season was never brought up when school officials learned of Myers’ departure. But recent events still left the program in an unsteady state as players checked in for the first time in Woodstock on Friday afternoon.
“Everybody’s just kind of like they don’t know what’s going,” Tyson Brown, a 6-foot-9 forward from Kempsville High in Virginia Beach, said on Friday as he settled into his dorm room at MMA. “It’s really just everybody’s kind of confused. I talked to (future MMA teammate) Amir Nesbitt, who’s gonna be here, and he was just like it’s a lot going on. That was so last-minute for someone to throw that, and head coaching, you know, Chad’s like big-time, so it’s definitely just very last-minute.”
Myers explained on Thursday that his path to being named the new postgrad coach at IMG was a quick development, one that occurred over the previous 10 days after IMG saw its former head coach take a job elsewhere.
Peery said on Friday that he and assistant coach Bob Gallager didn’t know until Tuesday – when Myers pulled both assistants into his office before a school-wide faculty meeting – that Myers was leaving.
“Honestly, we knew nothing,” Peery said, adding that MMA Head of School Kimberly Elshafie quickly appointed him as the Colonels’ new head coach on Tuesday. “I don’t know when (IMG) contacted him. Honestly, he never mentioned anything about it at all, so sitting here and hearing it – ‘I’m going to IMG’ – obviously, it’s a shocker and there’s zero time to prepare for it.
“But honestly it’s a good opportunity for him. It’s a great opportunity for me,” continued Peery, who echoed what Myers said on Thursday when he noted that a possible MMA vs. IMG matchup could be in the works this season (MMA played IMG in a tournament last February). “And I’ve known Chad going on the better part of probably 15 years now. … I’ve known him for years, so it’s not a bad situation. He’s still trying to help. He said he’d do whatever he can to help us. I believe him.”
Myers said on Thursday that to get ahead of the news, he had informed MMA officials on Tuesday of his departure and notified the team’s incoming players on Wednesday, so that they didn’t first see the news on social media.
At least three incoming players – Brown, D’Antaye Page and Kyrese Mullen – said on Friday that they haven’t spoken to Myers since they heard the news, which to each was delivered by someone other than Myers.
Brown said he received word of Myers’ departure from another player, Page said he heard the news from Peery on Wednesday, and Mullen, a 6-foot-6, 248-pound sophomore who played last season at Lake Taylor High School, said he got the word, also on Wednesday, from another Lake Taylor product, Dereon Seabron, who starred for Myers at MMA last season and is now at North Carolina State.
“I didn’t really believe it because (Myers) would’ve said something," Mullen said, "and then it popped up on Bleacher Report that coach Myers was leaving.”
Myers’ exit, as of Friday, resulted in MMA losing two players who were previously committed to play in 2019-20, including one scholarship player, Peery said. Peery added that 11 players registered with the school on Friday, with several more possibly joining the team next week.
“I gave kids the option of coming or not coming,” said Peery, who added that he called his incoming players to make sure they were “still good” with the situation at MMA. “At the end of the day, I want kids that are gonna be here, that want to be here, and not just kind of halfway in, halfway out. … We want everybody all in, all together. I gave them options. If they need time to think about it, that’s perfectly all right. Obviously, we need to fill this roster sooner rather than later, so you might see some new faces next week. But hopefully, the guys that we’ve recruited over the last year still come.”
Myers’ track record as a head coach – he sent over 30 MMA players to the NCAA Division I level in five nonconsecutive seasons at the school and has a 198-36 record in seven years as a postgrad head coach – was the primary reason many players committed to Massanutten for the upcoming season.
“Chad is definitely somebody that knows what he’s talking about,” Brown said. “He can get you better and get you to the next level. You already know the resume. He puts out players (to the) ACC, Big Ten, everything every year. That was kind of my pull, and I knew he would get me to that next level. But I have faith in coach Peery and coach Gallager, for sure.”
The 11th-hour nature of the coaching change likely prohibited most incoming players from exploring other options for the upcoming school year.
Brown, who said he has a good relationship with Peery and Gallager, spoke like a player fully committed to MMA despite recent events, saying that “regardless of the situation and everything, we still want to come here and win.”
Page, who also built up a strong rapport with Peery during the recruiting process, he said, and Mullen both said they were going to stick with MMA no matter the circumstances.
“I wasn’t gonna consider changing,” said Page, a Georgia native who played for Westlake High School in Atlanta. “I knew this is the school that’s gonna help me the best, develop me the best. And it’s comforting knowing that coach Peery is the one stepping in, unlike if it was someone else who was coming in.”
“Some people that didn’t even go here, they were like I feel sorry for the people that are going to MMA because they don’t know what the team might be like, they don't know who their coach is gonna be,” said Mullen, a class of 2022 prospect. “Dereon (Seabron) said you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do to get to the next level, and that's what I’m gonna do.”
This year marks the second time that Myers has departed MMA for another job opportunity after a coaching stint with the Colonels. The last time he left after two seasons at the helm in 2013, Massanutten’s postgrad basketball program lasted just one more season before it was dropped by the school, only to be resurrected upon Myers’ return in 2016.
“The future of this program’s very bright,” Peery said. “We’re on track to keep the momentum going. We’re gonna win a lot of games. We’re gonna keep the team going to the national tournament, that’s our goal. Ultimately the goal here is to win a national title, and if we’ve got to beat IMG to get there, that’s OK too. We’re a solid program. We’re not going anywhere. We’re gonna be here for the foreseeable future.”