Some of the best coaches in Coastal Alabama Community College history have been men and women who understood that game preparation and execution is only a part of what makes student athletes successful. They need support and inspiration as much as calisthenics and instruction.
Coach Chuck Taylor has understood that concept for decades, building a career leading basketball teams throughout the southeast at the junior college and Division I levels. It was that dedication to overall student development that led him to the college's Monroeville campus in January 2021, where he was initially hired to work in a student services and support capacity.
According to Athletic Director Daniel Head, it was providence that brought Taylor, his wife and their two daughters to south Alabama, for just a few months later, longtime Eagles Head Basketball Coach William Brown retired. Head didn't have to look far to find his successor.
"He was in the right place at the right time," Head said. "Coach Taylor understands that Monroeville is a great basketball community and we have a lot of support."
A former associate head coach under legendary University of South Alabama Coach Ronnie Arrow — where Taylor helped take that team, and the University of North Texas Eagles, to the NCAA Tournament — he is a proven recruiter and former community college coach of the year. Most recently Taylor helped lead the Sam Houston State University Bearcats to the NIT Tournament following their Western Athletic Conference championship.
Taylor knows that for the Eagles to be successful during the coming season, and beyond, the community needs to buy in. And that requires a significant commitment by the coaching staff, as well as the players. He's quick to acknowledge Coach Brown had similar goals, and Taylor plans on building on what his predecessor already has in place.
"This program remains something the community can take pride in, and one of my first missions is to make sure we're recognizable throughout the area," Taylor said. "We want to get people back into the gymnasium to help root us on."
One of the team's first initiatives under Taylor's leadership are events he's calling Eagle Madness. On non-football and non-church nights, his staff will invite members of the men's and women's basketball teams to meet with folks from the greater Monroeville community. There they will have skills competitions, including five-minute scrimmages with the players, ending with dunk competitions to be judged by community representatives.
Taylor has had a lot of success with such measures in other places he's coached and said, "it's really important to get Monroeville behind us."
"These are some of the most formative years of our student athletes' lives," Taylor said. "I want them to understand that they're fortunate to have an opportunity to don our uniform, and they have to have pride about our institution."
That means treating everything and everyone with respect, he said, including the campus, its facilities, staff and faculty. "Because Coastal Alabama Community College has given me this opportunity, and I don't take it lightly and I'm going to treat it right," Taylor said.
"Coach Taylor is all about the complete student-athlete experience," AD Head said. "He understands that 'student' comes first and he wants them to develop as young men and be successful.
"When they leave college, they're going to be prepared for the world outside of athletics and have a good foundation to build when that happens."