Just named head basketball coach Ernie Clawson (#44) is shown here in a photo courtesy of the Claiborne Progress. Clawson led his team, the Powell Valley High Indians, to the state tournament’s Final Four in 1995.
JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – The Cougars just-hired coach is ready to get started. “My goal is to be competitive and have a chance and bring this program back to prominence,” said new Campbell County Cougar Head Basketball Coach Ernie Clawson. His comments came during the lunch hour on Monday over WLAF radio and TV in his first interview after being hired. Listen HERE to Coach Clawson’s first interview as the new head coach.The former Cumberland Gap High School head basketball coach and athletic director has an eight-year worksheet of 119 wins and 96 losses that includes five winning seasons. Clawson spent last season out of coaching while serving as the Panthers director of athletics.
As a player, Clawson was also a winner having played during a stretch of glory years for the now closed Powell Valley High School in the 1990s. He led the Indians to the state tournament his senior season in 1995. PVHS won a combined 60 games against eight losses during Clawson’s junior and senior seasons.
Clawson’s first comments after being announced as the new head coach on Monday were quite humbling. “We’re appreciative and thankful and blessed to have this opportunity to take on a new challenge in my life. God closed the door in part of my life and is starting a new chapter. I’m looking forward to it.”
It’s a new chapter for the Cougars, too. CCHS begins the new decade with a new coach as it starts its 46th season of basketball. Clawson becomes the school’s seventh head coach.
Ernie Clawson served eight seasons as head coach at Cumberland Gap High.
One upside to a next county over hire is a short drive to work. “I can commute from my home in the valley. I don’t have to travel very far. It’s probably just as short of a distance to drive to CCHS as it is to Cumberland Gap High.” said the new coach.
Clawson inherits a program that’s been short on winning over the past decade and only recorded a combined handful of victories the last two seasons. Since 2010, the Cougars went through three different head coaches and only won two district tournament games and qualified for the region tournament just once.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, and I’m up for challenges. That’s one of the reasons why I left middle school and started coaching at the high school level. I know this district is tough, said Clawson.
Clawson looks forward to finding some players who want to buy in to what he’s selling. “I believe that these kids will buy into it and that we can be successful on this level. I know Oak Ridge is the top dog in this league, but my goal is to be competitive and to have a chance every night,” said the 43-year old head coach. Clawson believes if the kids’ hearts are there and they are hungry that the Cougars can play with anybody.
“The biggest thing right now is to get in contact with the players. I know of some of them, but I don’t know them, and I want to introduce myself,” said Clawson. He adds, “That when the governor lifts the ban, I would like to meet with them. As soon they open up the school and the gym again, we’ll hit it. It’s tough right now, but every other school is dealing with the same thing.”
He emphasized that winning is great, but noted that it’s also about building character and teaching life skills and getting these youngsters ready to be great young men. “That means more to me than anything . The wins and losses will take care of themselves, but the biggest thing is we want to see these guys succeed and be great young men,” said Clawson.
The new post at CCHS affords Clawson the chance to meet a longtime goal; coaching with his younger brother. Brandon Clawson, some ten years younger than Ernie, will serve as his assistant coach. He describes his brother as young and energetic and that he brings a great basketball mind to the bench. “He’s a great motivator, and that’s going to be great for the younger kids. Plus, we both love to win,” said Ernie Clawson.
After wearing Columbia blue and black the past several years, a wardrobe change is ahead. When asked about changing his wardrobe to orange and blue he said, “I’m definitely going to have to work on my wardrobe. Although, I do have one Campbell County T-shirt.” Fun aside, Clawson is anxious to get started.
The new Cougar head coach said, I’m not promising any miracles, but I will promise this if the kids will buy in to what we have to sell, I feel like we can bring success to the Campbell County High School basketball program.” (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/21/2020-6AM)