“It was a really good opportunity. They had some pretty good talent coming back and it was an opportunity to get back into coaching,” said Bethea.
Bethea, currently the athletic director at Westlake High School in south Fulton County, replaces Joby Boydstone, who led the Tigers for 12 seasons before leaving to take the same position at Carter High School in Knoxville, Tenn.
The new Douglas County mentor began coaching at the high school level in 1994 as the ninth-grade boys’ basketball coach at Westlake. In 1995 he moved to the girls’ JV head coach and the girls’ varsity assistant coach and helped them make the Final Four in 1996. After that season he became the varsity boys assistant coach, where he stayed until 2002.
Bethea took his first head coaching job in 2002 at Banneker High School in College Park and stayed there until 2006, before becoming the assistant principal at Sandtown Middle School in Fulton County.
At Sandtown until 2011, Bethea returned to Westlake as the athletic director, where he worked for two years before taking the job leading the Tigers.
During his years as a coach, Bethea won region Coach of the Year awards in 2003, 2004 and 2006 at Banneker. He also has been a part of coaching staffs for several region championships, the 1999 AAA boys state championship, 2002 AAAA boys state championship and numerous playoff appearances.
“I’ve been blessed to be in really good programs with really good athletes…We brought a style of play in the late ‘90s, early 2000s, that no one really had,” Bethea said.
Coming to Douglas County, Bethea said he plans to bring “an exciting brand of basketball” to the school that will incorporate an “uptempo” style with a lot of defensive pressure.
“We’re going to bring more defensive intensity,” he said. “If nothing else, I’m confident in the defense we’re going to put on [other teams].”
Having weekly workouts and being a part of various team camps, Bethea said he believes the players are starting to buy into the plan he has for the team and the program.
“We’re going to have fun and be proud of the product we put out on the court…The goal is to make it one of the best programs in metro Atlanta and the nation and I believe we can with hard work and commitment,” Bethea said.
Aside from the play on the floor, Bethea said he wants to see all of his players pursue higher education; whether through athletic or academic scholarships, he will motivate his athletes to go to college.
“I’ll be grooming young men into men and teaching them to be responsible so they can be productive members of society,” he said.