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Vandebilt hires new girls' basketball coach


Katrell Dixon, who is the son of longtime Ellender High basketball coach Kenneth Dixon, was hired as the new head girls basketball coach at Vandebilt Catholic on Wednesday (Photo by Submitted)


The son of a high school basketball coaching legend is preparing to create his own legacy in the local coaching ranks.

Katrell Dixon, who is the son of longtime Ellender High basketball coach Kenneth Dixon, was hired as the new head girls basketball coach at Vandebilt Catholic on Wednesday.

Dixon, who served as the head boys basketball coach and assistant football coach at Capitol High of Baton Rouge in 2011, replaces former Vandebilt coach Kathy Luke, who had her 27-year reign as the Lady Terriers coach end in March. Luke's days at Vandebilt ended in controversy when the Lady Terriers were forced by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to forfeit their trip to the Class 4A state semifinals this season due to the use of an ineligible player.

The 39-year-old Katrell Dixon expressed excitement of taking over one of the state's top girls basketball programs. He met with his new players for the first time during a team meeting on Wednesday, and he said he looks forward to helping the Lady Terriers succeed not only on the basketball court, but in the classroom as well.

"I'm very excited. Vandebilt has a beautiful facility with great students and alumni," Dixon said. "I'm excited about the players we have here. I'm going to come over here and help these young ladies become productive people in society."

Vandebilt principal James Reiss said he interviewed several applicants for the job, which he admitted was a difficult task because a lot of coaches didn't want to follow in the footsteps of a successful coach like Luke, a Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer, who led the school to its only state basketball state championship in 2010.

But Reiss said Dixon stood out in his interviews and made a good impression. Along with his duties as a teacher and coach of the girls basketball team, Dixon will serve as Vandebilt's boys golf coach next year.

"We're very excited to have him," Reiss said. "It was a long process of interviewing people, and he just seemed like a great fit. I think he could be successful here, not only as a coach, but as a teacher. He's going to do very well."

Dixon said he does not know any details about the controversy involving the ineligible player controversy at Vandebilt this year, but he recognizes the work Luke put in to build a successful program over the years.

Despite losing four seniors from last year's team, Dixon said Vandebilt has the resources to continue those winning ways with players like Kaylyn Kitchen, Cassidy Barrios and Keely Diebold returning next season.

"I really don't have to come here and really rebuild these girls," Dixon said. "Most coaches enter their first year having to rebuild. I just have to maintain it."

Reiss said the administration will give Dixon all of the support he needs to establish his own mark at Vandebilt.

"We have a great program," Reiss said. "Coach Luke was a legend. She was here for a long time, and she did a great job. Now we get to start new, and I think (Dixon) will do just fine. It's his program. He's got a young group, so he's starting fresh. As I told him, it's not about wins and losses. It's about teaching the kids the game with self-discipline and respect. I think he'll do that."

Dixon, a former Southern University football player who has been in the coaching ranks since 1997 and had coaching stints at Ellender, McKinley High and Capitol High, said he was inspired by the success of his father Kenneth, who has won four state championships in more than two decades as Ellender's coach.

"I tell people all time that I've been a coach all my life," Dixon said. "I'm a coach's son. I didn't want to be a doctor or a lawyer. I wanted to do what my father did because I saw the response of young people towards him. I want to be able to do that and follow the tradition and success."

Although his son will now coach at a rival District 7-4A school, Kenneth Dixon said he is proud his son was hired at Vandebilt.

"He's taking over a top-notch program and trying to fill some big shoes over there," Kenneth Dixon said. "Coach Kathy Luke has done a wonderful job. I just hope he exercises patience and doesn't try to be too good too fast. Just be patient and continue to work hard. He's in a rebuilding year, so I hope he takes the time to rebuild."

Katrell, who is the oldest of Kenneth and Katherine Dixon's three children, said he looks forward to coaching against his father during the upcoming season, but he said the main focus will be on the players.

"My biggest concern is my players and that they feel comfortable and prepared," Katrell said. "They've already expressed more hunger to continue to be great, so that's what I'll be thinking about."

Kenneth Dixon said he will approach the upcoming Vandebilt games with the same intensity he has done for years.

"Nothing is going to change," Kenneth said. "When the officials toss the ball up in the air, I don't even know who is on the other side of the court coaching until the game is over. It's just about the way we prepare our teams. Even though it's a game where we are trying to win district, you're looking at the big picture — trying to improve every game and get better at what we do."