April 21, 2011 9:09:00 AM
Brian Alexander has coached all over the state of Mississippi, so it was easy for the teacher/coach to find his way home.
Northeast Mississippi Community College made it official Wednesday when it named the former Columbus High School and former NEMCC student assistant/manager the school''s new women''s basketball coach.
Alexander, 34, replaces current NEMCC Athletic Director and Dean of Student Services Ricky Ford, who held the position for 30 years.
"It is a great feeling," said Alexander, 34. "This institution is first rate and first class all around. It is refreshing to be back in a situation like this."
Alexander served as an assistant coach to Sammy Smith at Columbus High from 1996-98. He helped the Falcons advance to the Mississippi High School Activities Association North State Tournament in 1998.
Alexander then worked as a coach at the University of Southern Mississippi (1998-2001), Southeastern Louisiana University (2001-03), and Campbell University (2003-06) before becoming an assistant coach for the men''s and women''s basketball teams at Itawamba C.C. from 2006-09.
In 2009, Alexander served as head coach for the World Basketball Exposure Association''s Tupelo Rock-N-Rollers and led the team to the league finals. He was slated to coach the team last year, but the season was suspended less than a week before it started.
In addition to his work as a full-time instructor at ICC, Alexander took time to travel to visit friends who work as coaches at Southeastern Conference schools and at other levels. He also traveled recently to Thailand as part of a mission trip with the First Baptist Church in Tupelo.
Alexander said all of those experiences have taught him many things, especially the blessings he has in his life. He hopes to be able to convey some of the things he has learned and to use some of those lessons to help NEMCC build a championship women''s basketball program, but that won''t be his only goal.
"I want to get players in there and coach them the right way," said Alexander, who recently earned his doctorate degree from Mississippi State University in Community College Leadership. "My ultimate job is to make the whole institution proud. I want to make sure our players graduate and that they represent the school and are great ambassadors of the college."
Alexander was born in Booneville and raised in New Albany. He spent two years as a student assistant/manager on Mike Lewis'' Tiger basketball team that advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association National Basketball Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., in 1995-96.
Fifteen years ago, he was named Mr. Northeast Mississippi Community College, which is why it isn''t surprising to say Alexander felt back at home Wednesday when he was introduced.
"We were not looking for someone to replace me, but we were looking for someone that could take this program and lead it without any reservations what so ever," Ford said. "Brian Alexander will take this challenge and do very well with it."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.