When Rome City Schools was charged with finding a new Rome High School head boys’ basketball coach earlier this year, the search took them over the state line and to a man that has lived and breathed Northeast Alabama basketball his entire life.
Ryan Chambless, who has led a number of successful high school basketball teams in the greater Jacksonville area, was approved by the school board for employment at its monthly meeting on Tuesday with the plan for him to take over the Wolves’ program for the upcoming season.
“I think Rome is a great city,” Chambless told East Alabama Sports Today. “It’s a very sports-oriented city; they really like their sports. Rome High School is a place they support athletics big-time. I just think it’s a good opportunity to go and be successful.
“It’s a chance for me to improve and grow and be successful, and be successful with these guys. … I’m very grateful I get to keep doing what I truly love doing.”
Chambless will be Rome’s fourth head coach in five years and takes the reins following Terry Smith’s decision in March to step down as the Wolves’ head coach to take the same position at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross. Smith had been the head coach for one season after spending the 2018-2019 season as an assistant.
A former standout at Alexandria (Ala.) and Jacksonville State, Chambless has coached the boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams at Jacksonville, Ohatchee, St. Clair County and Cleburne County over the last 12 years.
Chambless took Jacksonville’s girls’ team to the Alabama state title in 2012 and the title game in 2015. He comes to Rome from Pleasant Valley High in Alabama, having just directed the Raiders to their winningest season in years (11-15). The team was competing for a .500 season heading into the final week of the regular season.
“I think our basketball job is the kind of job that kind of fits a guy like Ryan because there’s an opportunity to be outstanding with our basketball,” Rome district athletics director and Wolves head football coach John Reid told EA Sports Today.
“We did our homework. The guys we interviewed were all of the same mold. It’s a tough time as things are right now to hire somebody. We’re really happy it was a good fit. We can’t wait.”
Chambless, 40, will teach physical education and help coach Rome’s football team as well.