Lookout Valley's Joe Galloway says he has come to grips with the fact that his 39-year-old high school coaching career is almost over.
The TSSAA basketball regular season has ended. Galloway's boys' team will now need victories over Richard Hardy and Van Buren County in the District 6-A tournament to advance to a semifinal. That would guarantee the Yellow Jackets at least three more games, with one of those being in the Region 3 tournament.
But with a loss to either the Hawks or Eagles, Galloway's illustrious career would end sooner.
The possibility of how soon is still unknown. The girls' portion of the District 6-A tournament is expected to get under way tonight with Marion County hosting Richard Hardy at 7 EST.
However, Lookout Valley was scheduled to host Richard Hardy in the boys' opening-round game Thursday, but expected severe winter weather today could delay that game, as well as the start of several area tournaments.
Tournament schedules involving teams in the Chattanooga area will be published once they are finalized and reported to the Times Free Press.
Galloway said he feels good about 2013-14 being his final season in coaching, particularly because he believes some good young talent will be moving up to the high school level soon. He's also coached baseball, golf and volleyball at times, but basketball -- he coached the girls more seasons than he has the boys -- is his love.
"More than anything else, I'm going to miss the practices," Galloway said. "That and the drives back and forth between games. That's where you get to spend time with the kids."
The real reason Galloway targeted this as his last season is because it's the senior season for his oldest grandchild, guard Chase Clounch.
Clounch said his relationship with his grandfather is more like "father-son" in being able to talk with him about anything. The 18-year-old has had to relinquish some of the off-the-court attention he used to get from his grandfather to his younger brother, 2-year-old Casey. But if he's willing to go to the gym and work on his game, he knows who'll be there to rebound for him.
"As a coach, he's excellent," Clounch said of his grandfather. "There's no doubt about that. He loves every single one of his players that have played for him. Even when he gets on somebody, he's doing it out of love. He's just trying to make them better."
Clounch also has gotten to see his grandfather honored by some of the Yellow Jackets' opponents at road games this season. Galloway said he appreciated the recognition, but in his usual humble fashion he didn't want to be a distraction from the game.
"I've really enjoyed this year," Clounch said. "We haven't done as well record-wise, but it's been great to see how much people love him at some of these other places. It's made me think back on all the years he's been my coach, and it makes me happy for him. People recognize he's a good coach, and a good person."
Galloway and his wife, Cheryl, reared three children, all of whom grew up to be high school basketball coaches. Kristen, who coaches the Lady Yellow Jackets, is Chase's mother.
"He's taught me everything I know about basketball," Kristen said of her dad. "He's not only taught me everything in basketball, but also how to treat people; how to be not just and X's and O's kind of coach; how it's important to get to know kids; how to relate to them, and discipline them when it's needed. He really has a good balance when it comes to that."
Keith Galloway coaches the boys and his wife, Jennifer, coaches the girls at Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville. With fewer obligations next winter, Joe and Cheryl will be taking some trips north to see grandchildren there.
The Galloways' youngest, Katie Burrows, is a member of Jim Foster's staff at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She and her husband, Nick, are expecting their first child toward the end of this year.
Galloway has been the District 6 representative on the Hamilton County School Board since 2010 and plans to run for that office again in August. But whatever additional spare time he's about to have, it's going to be divided among grandchildren, movies with the wife, a little golf and one other thing.
"I'm kind of a basketball junkie," Galloway said. "There's going to be some good games going on, and I'm going to be going to some of them."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or email@example.com.