published Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Catherine Neely retires as East Ridge High School volleyball coach after 50 years

One of Chattanooga's coaching icons has decided to hang up her whistle.

Catherine Neely, who has coached at East Ridge High School for 50 years, announced she is stepping down as the school's volleyball coach. Neely will continue working as the school's athletic director.

“It's the hardest decision I've ever had to make,” Neely said. “But it's just time.

“Not many people get to do something they love, and at the same place, for 50 years, so I feel blessed.”

Neely ends her career with 1,395 volleyball victories, third most nationally and she is a member of eight Halls of Fame, including the National High School Hall of Fame.

The gym at East Ridge High School is named in her honor and she also compiled a 625-364 overall record in 43 years as the school's girls' basketball coach. She stepped down as basketball coach six years ago but remained on as volleyball coach and in her storied career, guided the Lady Pioneers' volleyball teams to 16 state tournament appearances, winning state titles in 1997 and 2005 and finishing second twice. She was the national volleyball coach of the year in 2006 and received the USA Volleyball Lifetime Achievement and Service Award in 2008.

"Catherine Neely is East Ridge High School,” said former TSSAA executive director Ronnie Carter, who worked with Neely for 30 years. “She epitomizes that school and that community. She is a role model not just for the girls that play for her but for every coach in every sport at every school in the state on how to lead a program."

Contact Stephen Hargis at or 423-757-6293

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...

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