The Family Business
- Updated: June 20, 2016
Lambert trio embody coaching’s most important element: leadership
Jason Lambert, pictured here as the girls and boys basketball coach at Maryville Junior High two years ago, was named head baseball coach at Loudon High School last week. With the hire, the Lamberts, which includes father, Randy, and younger brother, Wes, will all be head coaches when school opens in the fall. Photo by Jolanda Jansma
By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row
Loudon High School announced former Maryville assistant Jason Lambert as its new baseball coach early last week.
This spring, Nolensville named Wes Lambert, Jason’s kid brother, as the school’s first-ever basketball coach.
Having a son follow in a profession that’s been your life’s work has to be pretty neat for a father.
“I think about it all the time,” Maryville College men’s basketball coach Randy Lambert said. “Obviously, I tried not to direct or guide my children into coaching. I wanted them to have the freedom to make their own decision. I’m glad they’re both in coaching because they’re such good role models for their kids. You coach to guide and lead young people.”
The tasks confronting both younger Lamberts could hardly be more different.
Jason Lambert takes over a Loudon program whose traditions rival some of the area’s biggest football programs.
Loudon home games are broadcast on a local radio station.
Few high school baseball programs can make that claim.
Up until a couple of years ago, Loudon was coached by one of the winningest coaches in state history, Bill Thompson winning 743 games over a 39-year, Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame career, a run that included a state runner-up finish, two quarterfinal appearances, 11 district and three region championships.
Two of his players reached the professional ranks.
“It wasn’t just any coaching job I would take,” Jason said. “I’ve always known Loudon has a strong baseball program. The community aspect of it … they love baseball here.”
A lot of thought went into the decision, he said. Where to turn for advice was a layup.
“I talked to my brother and my dad daily,” Jason said, “about the ups and downs that come with it. They are very supportive of me. They said, ‘If this is what you want to do, go out and get it.’”
It’s been that way since their dad was their Little League coach all those years ago, Wes Lambert said.
“That’s where I first saw how (Randy Lambert) interacted with kids,” he said. “It’s just neat to see how he takes a sport and is able to impact people in a larger way.”
Little League was far from the only time the Lambert sons played for their father. Jason has many of the hoop skills and acumen for coaching the game as Wes, the latter a coach-on-the-floor guard on the Maryville’s 2007 state championship basketball team.
At Maryville College, Jason became a standout with the school’s baseball team, Wes staying with basketball and playing for his father.
“He knew when to treat me like a player and when to treat me like a son,” Wes said. “It was pretty impressive how he knew how to handle that. He could be pretty tough on me at practice and we’d go home and have dinner with mom.”
Where Jason inherits a program with strong traditions, with all the expectations that follow, Wes is tasked with creating them at Nolensville. Coaching alongside one of the state’s most revered football coaches, former Ravenwood skipper Will Hester, isn’t going to make it any easier.
There’s little question Wes is ready, Jason said. Prior to Nolensville, Wes was an assistant at Blackman High School, one of the state’s premier programs.
“It just feels so natural to us,” Jason said.
Wes and Jason Lambert are both young men, both well shy of their 30th birthday. As to whether either is too young for such a big job, the answer, again, is as close as the dinner table.
Randy Lambert is quite likely the youngest to ever head a high school sports team. He took the head coaching at Lenoir City as a 22-year-old after graduating from Maryville College. Three years later, he became the men’s coach at the college.
Several men, including his father, Harold, and Maryville High’s Bill Phillips and Jim Campbell, played critical roles in his development as a coach, Randy said. At Maryville College, he learned under one of the school’s most revered coaches, former Scot football, basketball and baseball coach Boydson Baird.
“Coach Baird taught me an awful lot about how to treat people,” Randy Lambert said.
When Jason first considered applying for the Loudon job, Randy Lambert said he sensed some reluctance in his son. It wasn’t a question of whether he was qualified. It was the same thing Wes mulled only a few month earlier.
“My only advice to Jason was, ‘Don’t be afraid to fail because you’re ready for this job and you’re ready to work at it,’” Randy said. “‘Man, you’re ready!’”