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Berry ready for next challenge

Johnny Berry’s move from varsity basketball coach to athletic director didn’t hold the same sense of suspense as Lebron James’ impending free agency.
The rumors that last year’s basketball season would be Berry’s last circulated around the Hartselle community since the day after the Tigers were beaten by Muscle Shoals in the area tournament in February..
The word became official when Berry resigned as the Tigers’ head basketball coach and was approved as Hartselle’s new athletic director, replacing Bob Young.
“I’m looking forward to this new opportunity,” Berry said the day after he was named to the athletic director’s post. “It’s going to be a different kind of stress for me now. Coaching has been a part of my life for so long. I’m stepping away, but I’ll still be a part of it. I think getting away from high school sports cold turkey would have been pretty tough.”
Berry has spent 12 years with the Hartselle basketball program and led the Tigers to two Final Four appearances (2000, 2002) and was an assistant on the team that won the state championship in 1994.
He also served as an assistant football coach at Lagrange, Ga., when that school won a national football championship.
Despite a long list of accomplishments and milestones as a high school coach, Berry admits that at the end of the day the wins and losses weren’t the biggest part of his job.
“I really have no idea how many games I’ve won as a coach,” Berry said. “I guess I could go back and look at the scorebooks. But that doesn’t really mean much to me.
“No Final Four will ever match what it’s like to go into a store and see a former player who is a daddy or a husband. That’s bigger than any win that a coach could ever experience.”
Still, he knows that come October when it’s time to get out the basketballs for practice, his love for the sport will be tested.
“The good thing for me is that I work in the guidance office which isn’t far from the gym,” Berry said. “I know that I can go down and watch when I get to the point I miss it too much. I’ll still be a part of it.”

Sports editor Todd Thompson can be reached at 773-6566 or at