Good players. Good assistants. Good administrations.
That’s been John Wild’s blueprint for a great coaching career.
He reached 600 career wins when Summit’s girls beat Green Hill on Friday night.
“I’ve been fortunate to work in a lot of good situations that have had great administrations that allowed me to coach the way I want to coach,” Wild said. “I’ve had a lot of good assistant coaches that have been really loyal and hard working that have helped me along the way. And naturally I’ve had a lot of really good players that have been able to put the ball in the basket.”
Wild’s record is 600-212 for a .739 winning percentage in 26 years coaching girls and boys.
He also coached Franklin, Wilson Central, Riverdale, Lawrence County and Bradford girls in addition to Moore County and Harpeth boys.
Wild won a Class AAA title with Riverdale in 2012 and consecutive Class A championships with Moore County in 1999 and Bradford in 2000.
Summit is off to a 7-6 start this season after losing point guard Nicole Rizane to an ankle injury in the opener against Dickson County.
Rizane, the Lady Spartans’ most athletic player, should return after Christmas.
“It’s hurt us just with the flow and continuity with what we had worked with all summer and preseason scrimmages,” Wild said.
Sophomore Quinn Johnston, a good shooter, has been filling in for Rizane.
Summit begins District 12-AAAA play against Independence on Jan. 7.
The Lady Spartans are in a new district with Nolensville, Ravenwood, Columbia and Independence.
“It’s odd because I can’t remember the last time I played our first district game the first week of January, but I think it’s going to be really good for us because it’s allowed us to work on a lot of different stuff,” Wild said. “It’s allowed us to play different combinations, it’s allowed us to develop kids for an extended period of time that we’re going to need in January.”
Summit forward Claudette Runk loves playing for Wild.
“I think he’s so successful because he knows the game,” Runk said. “He’s really a good motivator for me, especially. He’s going to yell at you and he’s going to get on you, but he’s only trying to make you better.”
Wild’s first career win was with Harpeth over Smith County in 1992 a decade before Runk was born.
His biggest win came when Moore County beat Cosby 60-49 to win the state title in 1999, finishing with a 35-4 record.
“The reason why is that bunch of seniors had lost in the substate game for three years in a row and then finally got over the hump,” Wild said. “They were gym rats. You had to run them out of the gym at night. They were doing extra work. That’s the best team I’ve ever had.”
His most painful loss came when Riverdale fell to Memphis Central 68-59 in the 2011 state final.
“Our point guard, Tyisha Petty, got knocked out with a concussion with about five minutes to go in the game,” Wild said. “She was out floor general and our leader. The whole thing shifted into Memphis Central’s way and we weren’t able to overcome her not being on the floor.”
Riverdale finished 34-2 that year, but the disappointment fueled a state championship run as most of the key players returned the next season.
“The most talented team I’ve ever coached is probably that 2012 Riverdale team,” Wild said. “We had five Division I kids that started. They were fun to watch.”
Wilson Central’s Kendall Spray set a national record with 170 3-pointers during her senior year under Wild.
“I think she’s the greatest shooter Tennessee high school girls basketball has ever seen,” Wild said. “She was in the gym all the time shooting the ball.”
Spray transferred to Florida Gulf Coast from Clemson this season. She is the 10th player in Division I women’s history to reach 400 career 3-pointers.
Wild, 55, has been a head coach at eight schools. He was also a Lipscomb girls assistant from 2012-14.
“I just think every move I’ve ever made was to benefit my career,” Wild said. “It was just putting myself in a better situation.”
Six of his head coaching jobs were with girls teams and two with boys.
“I enjoy coaching girls more than boys,” Wild said. “I think the girls game is a lot more fundamental. I think the girls listen better. I think the girls’ concept of teamwork and continuity and playing for the program is probably a little stronger than guys.”
Wild was a student assistant coach at Lipscomb under Don Meyer (923-324) in 1986-87 before becoming a backup post player for him the following two seasons.
“He gave me a philosophy of how to teach the game,” Wild said. “He taught me a lot about discipline and work ethic and how to develop a team. Naturally, a lot of the x’s and o’s stuff that I still use today.”
Lipscomb went 38-2 and was ranked No. 1 in the NAIA most of the season during his senior year, which ended with a district final loss to archrival Belmont.
“I think small-college basketball in Nashville in the late ’80s was something really special,” Wild said. “You didn’t have the Titans, you didn’t have the Predators. You just basically had the Nashville Sounds and Vanderbilt and then the Lipscomb-Trevecca and the Lipscomb-Belmont rivalries, which was so prestigious for the city.”
Wild played for Greater Atlanta Christian before arriving at Lipscomb.
“I never really would have thought it would pan out like this,” Wild said of his coaching career. “Really, still today, I consider myself a real simple guy that just still enjoys going to practice every day and try to really develop your team throughout the season to make it the best team it can be when the tournament rolls around.”