Photo/Zac Chamblee

Caleb Vaughan thought he was ready to lead a basketball program three years ago at the ripe old age of 24. But at the end of every year during his tenure as an assistant boys coach at North Panola High School, he came back to earth. 

“I thought, ‘Man, I was not any good at the beginning of this year’.”

So Vaughan soaked up all the knowledge he could from the school’s head coach, Chris Yancy. Before that Vaughan worked for Charles Neely for a year as a volunteer assistant at Purvis High School. 

Now, after that stop and three years at North Panola, Vaughan is getting not one, but two shots at leading a varsity team. The Hurley native and William Carey grad was announced earlier this month as the new head girls and boys basketball coach at Sacred Heart. He’ll also coach the school’s junior high programs. 

“It’s something we’ve been working for, for three or four years,” Vaughan said. “I say we because my wife has to put up with me at home, and she watches just as many coaching videos as I do. Really excited and thankful to be here.”

Vaughan, 27, says he still has plenty to learn. 

“I’m going to make a lot of mistakes this first year. Like I told my kids, I’m just going to learn and grow from it. We’ll figure it out together.” 

On the girls side, Vaughan takes over for Clarence Lomax, who spent just one season at the post. As for boys, Vaughan replaces Brian Butler, who led the Crusaders for six seasons, including 2015-2016 in which the team made it to Jackson. Butler took the same position at South Jones and was actually the one who called Vaughan about setting up an interview for the openings. 

“I applied, and he [Butler] gave me a call on a Thursday afternoon,” Vaughan said. “He said, ‘I don’t wanna put you out coming down for an interview’. Just the giddiness in me, I said, ‘I’ll be there tomorrow if you want me there’. So I interviewed at 12 o’clock on Friday, and he called me that next week and they offered me the job.

“He [Butler] and I have stayed in touch. We just became really good friends through the interview process and me taking his spot. He’s done a really good job with the boys.”

Vaughan has gotten his first taste of leading both teams this month in practice and summer league games. The Lady Saders return a freshman-heavy, yet experienced class this coming season. 

“For the girls, the biggest class is only going to be 9th graders, but for some of them, this is their third year playing varsity,” Vaughan said. “If yesterday’s [summer league game] is any indication, we’re going to be tough. They play really, really hard and shoot it pretty well.”

Then there’s the Crusaders, who graduated a big senior class. 

“Yes, we’re young, but we’re working every day,” Vaughan said. “We’ve been in here four days a week in June. We’re going to be competitive on the boys side, despite our youth.”