Cherrelle Pullen Pass played for Carla Johnson at Clarke Central, and now she’ll have the opportunity to work under her long-time mentor.
Pullen Pass announced that she has accepted a girls’ assistant-coaching job under the Gladiators’ veteran coach after two years as East Jackson’s girls’ basketball coach.
“I’m very appreciative and honored that (Clarke Central principal) Dr. (Swade) Huff reached out when he did and offered me a teaching job, along with the privilege to work under a mentor such as coach Johnson,” Pullen Pass said.
Pullen Pass (who recently married) went 21-23 with the Eagles and helped East Jackson reach multiple milestones in her two-year tenure.
Her 2019-20 team tied the single-season record for wins with 11. Then, this past season, Pullen Pass guided East Jackson to a region runner-up finish for the first time in program history, despite having a roster of just seven players. Pullen Pass’s Eagles also achieved the program’s first-ever winning season and earned a state-tournament berth for only the second time. At 10-7, the Eagles could have possibly surpassed the program record for wins in a year if not for multiple game cancellations due to COVID-19 issues.
“I feel like a lot was accomplished in such a short amount of time,” Pullen Pass said. “But I have to give credit where credit is due. I did have a talented group of girls. But, at the end of the day, I always look at ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’ … So, even though you have talent, you still have to put the work behind it.”
Pullen Pass will now be reunited with her old coach. She played for Johnson — who will enter her 20th year with the Gladiators this winter — at Clarke Central from 2002-2006 and was a member of Johnson’s first squad in 2002-03. The Gladiators advanced to the state tournament three out of Pullen Pass’s four seasons at Clarke Central, including an Elite Eight and Sweet 16 appearance. Pullen Pass also helped the Gladiators also secure Johnson’s first-ever region title.
She said she looks forward to being further mentored by Johnson, who has guided the Gladiators to 16 state-tournament appearances.
“As a young coach that’s definitely wanting to grow and learn more, why not under the leadership of the one that taught me the majority of the stuff that I know today?” Pullen Pass said. “So, I’m definitely very excited about that.”
Pullen Pass is also excited to serve as a coach for the program for which she once played, noting a trip to Clarke Central’s gym a few days ago.
“I sat in the gym and saw the banners that we held,” she said. “It was automatically almost like looking at a photograph.”
As she moves on, Pullen Pass expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to lead the Eagle program.
“I’m definitely appreciative of the administration and coach (Shawn) Lindsay for giving me that opportunity to see what it was like to be a head basketball coach,” she said. “Again, I’ve had my years as being a head softball coach, but basketball is its own beast.”
Pullen Pass also said she felt the East Jackson players left a legacy “for the younger ones to strive to meet and reach and beat.”
“So, I definitely hope and wish the best for East Jackson,” she said.