For eight years, Joshua Staley manned the sidelines leading the Orangeburg-Wilkinson Bruinettes to playoff berth after playoff berth.
Now, Staley will take the next step in his coaching career as he takes over the A.C. Flora boys' basketball team this upcoming season.
"It was probably one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make," Staley said. "It was really tough. It was really emotional telling the kids you had to leave because you put so much time in with them and really building a strong foundation. The girls are going to compete for a championship again this season. Whoever moves into that position moves into a really good situation."
Staley began his tenure with the Bruinettes in 2006. Since then, he's amassed a 173-42 overall record that has seen eight playoff berths and three state title game appearances. Over that period, Staley has gone about the business of teaching players the importance of fundamental basketball. However, he says it's been a learning experience for him as well.
"Working at O-W these last couple of years have really been beneficial," he said. "I'm grateful to (Orangeburg Consolidated School) District Five. I'm grateful for the community for allowing me to coach their kids. I really learned a lot while I was here."
This won't be Staley's first time coaching a boys' team. He coached at H-K-T under Aric Samuel in 2002 before taking a position at Lake Marion to coach the girls' basketball team. Despite coaching girls basketball over the last few years, Staley sees no challenge in transitioning to the boys' game.
"At the end of the day, basketball is basketball and kids are kids," Staley said. "A lot of people don't remember this, but I started out on the boys' side. All of those teams with Aric Samuel were making championship runs. The boys' side is actually my roots. That's where I got started. It's not going to be as big of a transition as people may think. I'm just excited for this new journey, for this new opportunity for my family and I look forward to getting in contact with the kids and getting to work."
Staley's start with the Falcons means getting used to rivalries between his new team and other Columbia schools and that's one thing that he's anxious to be a part of.
"When you're a competitor, you want to go against the best," Staley said. "You want to be in a field of competition because it should bring the best out of you. I'm looking forward to reaching new heights as a coach and moving forward as a coach."