Nolensville High School stayed in-house when they turned to Todd Babington as the new boys’ basketball coach for the Knights.
It’s the building Babington has been trying to find a permanent home in for a couple years. The former Austin Peay standout took a big step in that direction when he was hired as a teacher and assistant coach late last fall. On Monday, Nolensville further cemented itself as home as Babington was announced as the young school’s third head coach, replacing John Stigall after one season.
Stigall accepted the head girls’ basketball position at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro two weeks ago.
“I’m ready to rock ’n’ roll,” Babington said by phone Monday after being re-introduced to his team online. “It’s the strangest time right now, but I’m just excited. I’m excited for this opportunity and to get on with this new journey.”
Nolensville principal Bill Harlin said Babington provides "continuity" for the program despite the coaching changes due to his experience as an assistant this past season.
"He has proven to have a great basketball mind, a tremendous work ethic, and a commitment to build a great program in the Nolensville community," Harlin said. "He will put his stamp on the program with his own style of coaching."
Babington said he applied for the head coaching position that opened last year at Nolensville. He later joined Stigall as an assistant in October. Babington left his head coaching job at Springfield after four seasons leading the girls' program.
"it's kind of funny because here I was last year leaving coaching girls for boys and now (Coach Stigall) has left boys to coach girls for the first time," Babington said. "It's kind of weird how it all works out. I feel like I have this new energy for coaching, though.'
Babington and his wife Katie, who works at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, have lived in the Nolensville area for years and purchased a home two years ago, Babington said.
The commute to Robertson County was draining, Babington said.
“I tell this story all the time from before I accepted the position last fall,” Babington said. “I love what I do, but it was wearing on me driving back and forth. There was this terrible rainstorm one night and it took me five hours to get home. I got hit int the process, but I just didn’t want to do that ever again. Now, here we are.”
Babington took his first trip to Tennessee as a senior in high school in 2004 when he took an official visit to Austin Peay State University in Clarksville. He stopped in at Belmont and Lipscomb along the way, but accepted an offer to play basketball for the Governors.
“I was all in down here,” said Babington, who starred at Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, Illinois. “I love this area.”
Babington helped lead Austin Peay to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference titles in 2007 and 2008. He played professionally in Belgium and Holland briefly before returning to the U.S. in 2009. He was hired as a graduate assistant at Austin Peay, while earning his Masters of Science.
Babington coached youth basketball in the Clarksville area before being hired at Sycamore as an assistant coach for the girls’ program there in 2014. He was hired at Springfield as the head girls’ basketball the next season. He led Springfield to its first winning season in 20 years before accepting the assistant role at Nolensville.
“I’m excited Todd has the job,” Stigall said Monday. “He’s really good with the kids and they have a healthy respect for him. … he’s unshakeable in terms of confidence.”
Stigall said Babington played a vital role to help his young Knights last season endure some growing pains after losing the majority of their experience to graduation the year before – all the while adjusting to new coaching. Nolensville closed 12-16 overall, but won big games late in the season to reach the Region 6-AA semifinals for a third season in a row.
“It was tough,” Stigall said. “When things were tough for us, he was kind of the guy that kept our confidence up and helped keep us moving forward.”
Babington inherits a team that loses just a pair seniors this year.
“Just like in the classroom, I was able to find my best role for the team last year and just try to keep everyone engaged and focused on our goals,” Babington said. We tried so many different things with that group and now that we are bringing a lot back, I have a ton of ideas and some things I want to keep doing.
“I’m just excited. I can’t express that enough.”