SWD coach reflects on recent All-American game

Southwest DeKalb High School girls’ basketball coach Kathy Richey-Walton recently returned home after she and her coaching staff led the McDonald’s All American Girls’ Game’s East squad in Houston on March 28.

The McDonald’s All-American Games, broadcast on ESPN, are the top showcases in the world for high school basketball players. The games, one boys’ game and one girls’ game, feature 22 of the best girls’ and boys’ high school players in the country and generally include the highest ranked recruits and future top draft selections.

While DeKalb County didn’t have any representatives playing in the game, Walton and Southwest DeKalb High School assistant coaches Michael Holloway and Terrie Montgomery were on the sidelines coaching.

“It was amazing. Everything was first class, top notch. The nomination speaks volumes. There are thousands of high schools, and for me it shows that we’ve been recognized and appreciated by our peers for a body of work,” said Walton.

Walton added that the nomination shows that Southwest DeKalb is receiving deserved attention. According to Walton, her roles as a Southwest DeKalb administrator and as coach of the lacrosse team—in addition to her vocal alumni—helped make the nomination a reality.

“There were a few people out there who were aware of what we’re doing here at Southwest DeKalb,” said Walton. “Several athletes come back year after year and they share their stories with people outside of Southwest DeKalb. I think they leave with a lot of pride and enjoy their experience and it shows.”

Walton—who recently had the basketball court at Southwest DeKalb named in her honor—won three consecutive GHSA AAAA State Championships in 2008, 2009, 2010 and won state titles in 2013 and 2016.

She has been named the 2008 and 2010 Garland F. Pinholster High School Coach of the Year, the 2009 Black Coaches and Administrators National High School Coach of the Year, the 2009 Bobby Cremins State Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2010, the 2008 DeKalb County Coach of the Year and the 2009 Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Teacher of the Year. Walton was also named the 2014 Southwest DeKalb High School Teacher of the Year.

“I’m just extremely grateful. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Walton. “It’s something that I will always try and find a way to share with others. If you put in work and do things the right way, people are always watching, and you never know what might come out of it.”

Terrie Montgomery (pictured) and Michael Holloway joined Walton on the sideline. Photos provided by Southwest DeKalb Girls’ Basketball

 

Despite the honor of coaching the game, Walton said it was still tough to stomach a loss as her East squad fell 110-102. Walton added that she still took several lessons from the game.

“You never want to lose on national television, but there are things you learn from there that can help all of us next year,” said Walton. “I think one thing that I already used, but that I’ll put additional emphasis on, is that everyone has something to contribute. If you put them in the right situation, everyone can be successful.”

Walton said the game was also a testament to the state of women’s basketball.

“We established a scoring record and a player on my team scored the most points. It shows the game is heading in the right direction as far as athleticism and talent goes. The women’s game is different than the men’s game. It’s different but it’s still exciting and they showcased that. I think we might have gained a few fans,” added Walton.

Walton and her coaching staff were the only representatives from DeKalb at the games, but she said her appearance reflected the competition and support present in DeKalb hoops.

SWD assistant coach Michael Holloway

“We have a strong community, a strong school system, and we have so many people involved in making this happen,” said Walton. “I don’t know if I could have done this in another county or another district, and we really support and challenge each other in DeKalb County.”

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