Tracy Vest is retiring.
But Vest, an Arab native who has spent his entire career in education and coaching at North Sand Mountain, is not done in the profession.
Vest is retiring for the Alabama Education System and heading across state lines to Tennessee, where he has been hired as the new varsity girls basketball coach at Rhea County High School in Evensville, Tennessee.
Vest has spent the past 25 years at NSM, including 16 seasons as the school’s varsity girls basketball head coach and seven as the school’s varsity boys head coach. He also coached golf and football during his time in Higdon.
“It’s been a great 25 years,” Vest said. “I’ve built a lot of friendships, a lot of great working relationships, over that period of time. Had a lot of great players come through. Had some great victories, some tough losses. I just thank everyone that’s helped out along the way. It’s been a blessing.”
Vest’s basketball career coaching record is 401-224. He was hired as the North Sand Mountain varsity girls head coach in 1994 and coached the Bison through the 2002-03 season before becoming the NSM boys head coach from 2004-10. He returned to the sideline for his second tenure as NSM’s varsity girls head coach in 2013 and coached the team through this past season. He led the NSM girls to the State Final Four in 1998 and 1999, including a state runner-up finish in 1999, and to five appearances in the Northeast Regional Tournament. He led the NSM boys to two Northeast Regional appearances. Vest’s NSM girls teams won four Jackson County Tournament championships and four Sand Mountain Tournament titles while his NSM boys teams won two county tournament titles.
Vest was also NSM’s varsity boys golf coach for two tenures, 2000-10 and 2017-19. He coached NSM to the 2019 Class 1A-2A Boys State Golf Championship last month.
Vest also served as NSM’s head football coach in 2009 and was the school’s junior varsity/junior high football head coach for nearly 15 years.
At Rhea County, Vest inherits a team that returns all five of its starters from a year ago and features a point guard Mallory Hampton, a Samford commit.
The Golden Eagles started summer practice under Vest this week, and he’s implementing his style of play. Rhea County has approximately 1,500 students in grades 9-12 and plays in Tennessee’s largest basketball classification, Class AAA.
“They’ve got a really good core coming back, kids that have played together since middle school. They’ve been responsive to me and all the coaches up here have been great. Coach Vest just has to come in and do a good job,” Vest said. “It’s a pretty tough league up here. But it’s like back on Sand Mountain. It’s tough competition, just bigger schools.”
Vest and his wife Amy, who is married to former NSM girls basketball standout Amy Spears Vest, will soon be making the move to Evensville, which is located approximately 45 miles northeast of Chattanooga.
At NSM, Vest said he leaves with a lot of memories. At the front of his memory collection was the opportunity to coach his children — Hannah in basketball and Hunter in golf — during his career.
“Coaching them was something very special,” Vest said. “I coached Hannah for two years in basketball, Hunter for three years in golf. And I don’t know much time we spent on the court and golf courses working through the years. To see all their work pay off and them enjoy the success they had, that was special for Amy and me. That’s something we’ll cherish the rest of our lives.”