Former Warrior now guiding Saints

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2008

As the fourth varsity boys basketball coach at Nansemond-Suffolk in the last five seasons, Franklin Chatman has taken up a big challenge for his return to the bench.

Chatman started what has continued as a Southeastern District dynasty at Nansemond River. From 2000-2004, Chatman and the Warriors went 94-28. NR’s regular-season title streak in the district stands at seven years heading into this year.

After a record of 17-10 in Jason Colombe’s first season as the Saints’ head coach in 2005-06, the Saints have gone in the other direction. Last season, with David Rowzie as the head coach, NSA went 6-17 overall, 1-8 in the Tidewater Conference.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s definitely a challenge,” said Chatman, “but it’s a good challenge. It gives me the opportunity to teach kids in Suffolk how to play basketball the right way.

“About going from a public school to a private school, I don’t buy into that at all,” said Chatman.

“He’s intense. He brings a lot of intensity and passion to the game of basketball,” said senior Isaac Ballou.

“Everyone at practice sees his intensity, the way he wants to do things, and it’s helping a lot.”

Ballou, a 6-foot-2 forward, was first-team All-TCIS last year. Despite NSA’s overall record, he was the leading scorer in the conference at just over 23 points a game. Ballou is an All-TCIS baseball player and was just named Player of the Year in the conference for the football season. Ballou has committed to play baseball and football at Marshall.

Spreading that intensity, and a love for competition, seem to be just as important for Chatman in the early stages of his new coaching position as does teaching new offenses and defenses to the Saints.

“We want to play hard, play smart, have fun and come together as a family. If we can do those things, wins and losses will not be a big deal. It’s having success together that makes a team,” said Chatman.

Since leaving Nansemond River in order to become an assistant principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School, Chatman has not left basketball aside. Most recently, Chatman was coaching a 16-and-under AAU team for Boo Williams Nike Elite.

“(The Boo Williams AAU team) has the best players in our area on it,” said Ballou.

“In three weeks, he’s been able to teach us more than we’ve done in the last couple years. There’s no doubt he’s helping us out and making us a lot better. He’s always coaching, even at water breaks,” said Ballou.

In addition to Ballou, Chatman highlights a couple of his returning guards as guys who will need to play even more important roles if the Saints are to move up in the conference.

Jim Hassell, a senior, was NSA’s main point guard last season. “Jim is tough, and he competes. In basketball, if you want to compete, then you have a chance,” said Chatman.

Harrison Spaulding, who showed his long-range shooting skill in spurts for the Saints last season, is also someone Chatman is relying on.

“Skill-wise, he’s a gifted player and it’s obvious he’s put a lot of time into his game,” said Chatman.

As has been the case for the last two years though, height inside is the Saints’ most obvious setback, especially when it comes to matchups against the top schools in TCIS play.

The Saints open up by hosting Windsor tonight, but have a schedule which contains 15 away or neutral games and eight home dates.