Chapel Hill will turn to a former Bulldog to lead its girls basketball program as T.J. Riley was approved as the new head coach at Monday night’s board meeting.
Riley will replace Jeremy Durham who led the Lady Bulldogs for the past 11 seasons before being hired to take over at his alma mater Brownsboro on May 7.
Riley, a 2008 graduate of Chapel Hill, will follow suit and also go to his alma mater.
“I’m excited,” Riley said. “I wasn’t looking for anything. I was happy where I was. But I saw on Facebook where (Durham) had gotten the job, and a couple of hours later, they called me and asked if I was interested. It’s always been a place I have wanted to go.”
Riley spent this past season as an assistant on head coach Ross Barber’s staff at Tyler Lee.
“I learned a lot from Coach Barber and that whole coaching staff,” Riley said. “The main thing was learning how to run a program. What I learned this past year will help me a lot going into this job.”
Before going to Lee, Riley was at Mineola for five years — the final two as head girls basketball coach.
In those two seasons, Mineola won 48 games and made a trip to the regional semifinals.
Making the regional tournament and beyond is among the goals Riley has for his new program.
“Coach Durham did a great job and they had a ton of playoff appearances,” Riley said. “I just want to build on that and try to build a dynasty. We want to get to the regional tournament often and the ultimate goal to go get to San Antonio and win a state championship.
“There are only four returners from the varsity group this past season, so it’s going to be a work in progress. I know it’s going to be a grind, but I’m ready to take on the challenge of building a program. I’m not going anywhere, because this is my dream job.”
Chapel Hill athletic director Jeff Riordan said Riley will be a great fit for the entire athletic program.
“I met with Coach Riley last year when I got her when he came out and spoke at our homecoming pep rally,” Riordan said. “He’s a great alumni who has also been very successful as a head coach. Everybody I called and talked to, they had unbelievable words to say about him. He’s one of those guys that brings a lot of energy and hard work, and we feel like he’s going to take our girls basketball program to the next level.
“He will also coach some junior high football. He has a state championship to his name in football as a receivers coach in Mineola. He’s a great coach and a great person. He will be a blessing for our kiddos.”
Riley was a junior on the Chapel Hill basketball team that made it to the state tournament in 2007, along with Chapel Hill boys basketball coach Akimba Johnson, who led the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a trip to the regional semifinals in his first season at the helm in 2019-20.
We have talked about this for the past 15 years and now it’s a reality! @coachriordan you just hired one of the best in the business @coach_triley12 will take our girls program to the next level! #BigFacts— CoAcH JoHnSoN🏈🏀 (@johnsonboi24) May 19, 2020
“This is something we talked about in school, coaching together,” Riley said. “I’m excited to work with him. And I’m happy to be back home.”
Riley and his wife, Megan, have three children — Silas, Kambrey and Trace.