Whereas the final days of the school year mean an eye towards summer break, the grind is just beginning for new Plano West head girls basketball coach Charlie Grant.
Just a few weeks into his tenure, Grant’s mornings are spent working with the Lady Wolves and laying the groundwork for his new team’s offseason. When he’s done at West, it’s back across town to his old stomping grounds at Plano East where he teaches economics. During weekends, Grant and his staff are making the rounds on the AAU circuit to see the Lady Wolves in action.
“It’s been extremely busy, but it’s been a glorious time,” Grant said. “West has welcomed me with open arms and it’s been amazing so far. That Monday after I was announced as their new coach, we hit the ground running … and I can’t say enough about how impressed I’ve been with their work ethic and buy-in to the process and what we’re trying to do.”
That starts with adopting Grant’s “GATA” philosophy, an acronym for “Get at them Aggressively.” Grant has seen what that type of mentality can breed, making the move to West after two seasons as the assistant coach for East’s girls basketball team. Grant architected the Lady Panthers’ stifling defense, a unit that held opponents to 39.7 points per game last season, and worked alongside head coach Jessica Linson to help East to its first regional final since 1993.
Grant described the memories made across those two seasons at East as ones “that will last a lifetime,” which made breaking the news of his move to West that much more difficult. That was the case the morning of May 7 when Grant officially announced as the Lady Wolves’ next head coach — just a few minutes beforehand, he revealed his decision to the Lady Panthers via FaceTime.
“I’m not going to lie, I said I wasn’t going to shed a tear, but when coach Linson turned that camera around on FaceTime and put in on our Lady Panthers, it hit me for a moment,” Grant said. “It really hit my heart that I’m moving on and they’re still there. We really became a family on the east side.
“The kids said, ‘Take your time, coach. We know. We’re happy for you. You deserve this and we’re excited for you, except for two days out of the year.’”
Grant said he’s leaning on his teachings across nearly two decades of coaching experience, prefacing his time at East with stints at Arlington Seguin, North Mesquite, Wichita Falls Rider and Midwestern State University — including two years as a head coach on the boys side at Rider. He admitted this move is a bit different, however.
“I’ve been a head coach before, so that helped with knowing what to expect,” Grant said. “But being a head coach in the same district that you were already in, and still being able to work back and forth between both schools, has been a little overwhelming, but it’s so refreshing with the positivity of the girls over at West. It’s like morning coffee.”
It’ll also mean at least two games a year of going up against his former team. Fittingly enough, Grant credited Linson as an influence in his decision to head west.
“Coach Linson and I are like brother and sister. We actually laid this vision out two years ago. She said, ‘Come over to East and come from the boys side to the girls side.’ She said to give her two years, maybe three, and then we’ll get you transitioned to being a head coach,” Grant said. “The things that we laid out and had a vision for these last two years surpassed our wildest dreams. She’s happy for me but at the same time a little torn because we had unfinished business with so much of our regional championship team coming back.”
It’s that same caliber of games that Grant hopes to have the Lady Wolves back to playing someday. He inherits a West team that finished seventh in District 6-6A, the fourth consecutive year West finished outside the playoff picture. The Lady Wolves graduate five members of that team and are projected to return all-district first-team selection Monica Marsh and honorable mentions Ava Shane, Khamryn Hopkins and Sibelle Zambie.
“Joining Plano West was a no brainer,” Grant said. “Getting to stay in Plano ISD and be someplace that’s in a great location with great facilities — just a diamond in the rough that had to be polished up a bit and revamped to try and get back to the glory days when they were contending for state titles.”