Nease graduate Terrence Washington has coached in Northeast Florida for 15 years, including a 97-40 record in seven seasons at Paxon.
It was going to take something special to pry Terrence Washington away from the sideline of his alma mater. That is exactly what the Nease graduate, and assistant coach for the Panthers girls basketball program, saw in the girls basketball coaching vacancy at Menendez.
“I have been asking the Lord for a head coaching position,” Washington confided. “Three years ago, I didn’t apply for it because the Lord didn’t tell me to. When I got wind of it, I prayed about it and the Lord said ‘Go.’”
Three days later, Washington sent his resume through cyberspace. Now he is the Falcons’ new head girls basketball coach.
“In the interview, he knocked it out the park,” said Menendez athletic director Patrick Turner. “He was super impressive. What he brings, not just as a basketball coach, but for our school, for us, he will be able to impact students in the building on a day-to-day basis. For that, it’s a no-brainer when it comes to hiring someone.”
Washington will not be a stranger in any local gymnasium. His roots in St. Johns County are deeper than some oak trees. He played varsity basketball at Nease under Bud Beech and led the Panthers to the 1992 Class 2A state final. His junior varsity basketball coach was longtime Bartram Trail basketball coach — and current school principal — Chris Phelps. At the AAU level he has coached girls who are now enrolled at Creekside, St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra.
“It’s going to be an honor to come back to your county that you went to school in,” Washington said. “The coaches that helped you be the first team to go to state in school history, the same thing you learned from them, you’re instilling in other kids as well. Hopefully, to see them do that, will make (my former coaches) happy.”
Washington is a believer in fast-pace, high-energy basketball. His system is predicated on applying pressure at both ends of the court and making opponents uncomfortable. Some of his defensive tactics he learned from Phelps.
“We’re very happy for Terrence,” said Nease girls basketball coach Sherri Anthony said. “We’re sad to lose him. The kids love him. But, it’s a very good thing for Pedro and the county. We wish him well. We know we’re a family and we’re not far from each other.”
Washington has coached basketball in Northeast Florida for more than 15 years. Prior to his five-year stint as an assistant on Anthony’s staff, he was the head girls coach at Paxon, where he won 70 percent of his games (97-40) and made two playoff appearances in seven seasons. Washington also served as an assistant men’s coach at Edward Waters College and Clay High during the 2004-05 season.
He is walking into a good situation. Menendez won a school-record 16 games last season and made the Class 6A playoffs in two of the last three seasons under coach Kerri Robison.
Turner said these are exciting times for Falcon basketball.
“She brought a sense of cohesiveness to the group of girls,” Turner said of Robison. “They bonded. She spent a lot of time with the girls. Even though they won games, I was more impressed with what Kerri did off the court and the relationships she had with the girls. She has built the program for Terrence to take over. With his background, his knowledge and being able to take something that is already established and take it to the next level. I think he’s ready to do that.”