Cambridge-South Dorchester High girls’ assistant basketball coach Shamya Johnson has been promoted to head coach.
The position came open when LaShawn Tucker left the program after one season to become an assistant coach at Chesapeake College.
Johnson, a C-SD basketball alum, served as an assistant for Tucker, her only prior high school basketball coaching experience. She said she’s excited for the opportunity to be head coach at her alma mater.
“I always said, even when I moved away and went to college, the one thing I always wanted to give back to Cambridge was to be able to be a part of the basketball staff in some way, shape or form,” Johnson said. “To me, it’s a big accomplishment. I haven’t processed all of it yet. For everything to come full circle, I’m happy.”
Before last season, Johnson coached in Cambridge youth leagues. She played basketball at C-SD from 1999-2003 under Bill Horsey. She also played softball for the Vikings under Pete Pietras.
Johnson taught journalism and business at C-SD last year. She’s teaching math at New Directions Learning Academy in Cambridge this year.
She said she learned a lot from coaching under Tucker last season.
“It’s just as much of the skill that you have to teach in the basketball skills, you also have to teach them the social aspect of just being on a team,” Johnson said.
“Sometimes it felt like I never got to leave the classroom. I felt like I was always teaching, all day. Teaching in the room, and then you go teach during practice.”
Cambridge-SD athletic director Kareem Otey said this is a move with the long-term vision for the program in mind. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the unknowns about the upcoming season, she wanted to fill the position instead of leaving it open until more information about the season surfaced.
Otey said Johnson’s history with the program was a bonus because someone with roots in the area would be less likely to leave.
She added it was important to the program to promote from within the school if possible.
“She is very knowledgeable, very enthusiastic. She knows the game. So it just seemed like an easy fit,” Otey said. “You want a coach that’s going to be around their players and interact with their players on a daily basis. So being in the school is definitely a plus. And she’s got a good rapport with all the players.”
Johnson had not yet talked to her team since she got the job. She knows she’ll have to show the kids empathy with the uncertainty about the upcoming season and school year. She said the best advice she could give the kids right now is to remain patient.
As head coach, she wants to elevate C-SD to Bayside and state championship-caliber status. The Vikings posted a 9-10 regular-season record last year, won one playoff game over Mardela before falling to North Dorchester in the Class 1A East Region II semifinal.
The Vikings struggled at the end of last season when first team All-North Bayside selection Kenya Jones missed the team’s last six games — including both playoff games — with a knee injury. Johnson said Jones is rehabbing the injury and will return strong this season, which will greatly boost C-SD’s outlook.
“Last year, we felt like we gave up on ourselves. We had too good of a season to play one playoff game and be done,” Johnson said. “It’s like a redemption year for us, and we really have something to prove.”
Tucker, a ninth grade English teacher at C-SD, will still be around if the team needs help. Otey said Tucker and Johnson shared a vision for the program, and Johnson said some of the things Tucker and the team did last season will stay in place.
Keeping Tucker’s positive momentum going was important for the program.
“I think we’re going to be moving in a good direction, which is pretty much the same direction that we were moving in last year,” Otey said. “So kind of keeping everything continuing on the same path was where our thought process was.”
Tucker said part of his rationale for the move to Chesapeake was that it would give one of his assistants an opportunity.
“When I originally took the (C-SD) job, one of my thoughts also was putting them in a position too to continue the legacy there,” Tucker said. “Some of them were wanting to get into coaching, and so I gave them an opportunity.”
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