Vincent and Kearney reunite

Former Appalachian State head coach Darcie Vincent, standing, and assistant coach Heather Kearney, right, react to a play during a game in 2012. Kelsey Sharkey (3), seated, is in the middle. Kearney, the new head women’s basketball coach at Western Carolina, hired Vincent to be on her staff June 3.

CULLOWHEE — Darcie Vincent is returning to the Southern Conference, just in a different town than Boone.

Vincent, the highly successful former women’s basketball coach at Appalachian State from 2009-14, was hired June 3 by her former assistant coach at App State, Heather Kearney, to be an assistant coach at Western Carolina. Kearney was hired to be the head women’s basketball coach at Western in May.

Kearney was the associate head coach at Appalachian State under Vincent. After leaving App State when Vincent resigned in 2014, Kearney landed the position of associate head coach at Coastal Carolina in 2014 and then at High Point University, where she was the associate head coach the past two seasons.

“I couldn’t be more proud and excited to reunite with my college coach and coaching mentor Darcie Vincent,” Kearney said in a statement. “Her technical abilities are second only to her care and regard for mentoring young women. Every single student-athlete on our team will become better from being coached and guided by her, just as I was. Her experience of turning around programs and winning SoCon championships will enhance our staff tremendously.”

The roles between Vincent and Kearney have switched, although Vincent said Kearney played a big role in coaching duties at App State.

“It was a partnership,” Vincent said about coaching with Kearney at App State. “She owned that team at App 50 percent as much that I did. She ran the offense and I ran the defense and our recruiting was the same way. She ran staff meetings once a week to make sure of where we are at and what I was thinking on things. I want to do the same things for her here.”

Vincent, who still has a house in Boone despite not coaching in the area, leaves the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area, where she was the head boys’ basketball coach at North Myrtle Beach. She was also a teacher there and was the boys’ junior varsity coach before being promoted last season. She was the first woman head coach of a boys’ basketball team in Horry County.

She says she’s a “totally different person” from when she was the demanding coach of the Mountaineers. App State won two Southern Conference regular-season championships under her leadership, which loosened the vice grip that Chattanooga had on the league at the time.

Instead, Vincent is more into teaching the game and being a teacher in the classroom. She taught marketing at North Myrtle and enjoyed that as much as anything she has done on the court.

“I did love teaching marketing and you can’t get any better than that,” Vincent said. “You taught them how to present and to communicate. You are basically coaching them in the classroom.”

She said a big difference coaching the boys than the girls is that the boys tend to be more competitive. At the same time, Vincent said her boys’ players needed validation for what they were doing just as much as the girls.

The difference there is that the boys’ team is used to being coached harder than the girls’ teams Vincent has led.

Vincent is reuniting with Kearney in Cullowhee. Together, they posted a 118-75 record at App State, including two 25-win seasons and three WNIT berths. Sam Ramirez (2010-11) and Anna Freeman (2011-12) were named SoCon Player of the Year.

Vincent, after resigning her post at Appalachian State, spent a year away from coaching just to decompress. She eventually landed a job at North Myrtle High School as a teacher and as the junior varsity boys’ basketball coach. One year later, she was the head coach.

She said it wasn’t easy to leave North Myrtle because she enjoyed teaching and enjoyed coaching the boys’ team, but she wanted to return to the mountains. Coaching at Western Carolina gave her that chance.

“We’re in this together,” Vincent said. “She’s put in 20 years to be where she is today. The fact that Western Carolina gave her this opportunity, and I have never seen this type of welcoming by any place I’ve been, everybody’s been amazing.”

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