The cat was already out of the bag but needed a formal introduction.
In the Hopkinsville cafeteria on Monday afternoon, Anthony Babb and Keith Leslie were officially introduced as head boys’ and girls’ basketball coaches.
For Babb, when he stepped away from the girls’ basketball program back in May, he had no aspirations to come back at the time being.
But when the Hopkinsville boys’ basketball job opened after Larry Miller stepped away, he couldn’t step away just yet.
“It’s hard to step away from something you really love,” Babb said. “Once I stepped away, I wanted to spend more time with my wife, my family, my kids, my grandkids. I wanted to try to get a summer that I never had in the last 20-something years. I didn’t know this was going to happen. When one door closes, the lord opens another door. I went into prayer and he said this is where he wanted me.”
Now that Babb is at the head of the Tiger program, he passes the Lady Tigers’ torch down to his former assistant in Leslie.
Having overseen the girls’ program for the past six years and worked with Leslie during that period as well, Babb is confident Leslie will do just fine.
“I feel very confident in coach Leslie,” Babb said. “We used to sit and talk about different things and how we can build this program to where it needs to be. You always can get better. If he can bring better things, I’m tipping my hat off to him. I know me and him both are going to put in the work and dedicate our time to these young ladies and young men to make sure that we become better athletes and just keep on working hard.”
Leslie, who looked up to Babb and saw him as a mentor, is happy to have taken the reins of the program last led by Babb.
“First of all, coach Babb did an excellent job of doing what he did for the last six years and I’m trying to continue and build my own legacy with these young ladies,” Leslie said. “Try to get them more committed to the game of life and move them forward.”
Having Babb still in Hopkinsville and coaching at the same school as he is, Leslie thinks that will do nothing but help him moving forward.
“Me and coach Babb have a great relationship,” Leslie said. “He has mentored me. I coached boys’ basketball with Tim Haworth and him. Me and Babb have been together for a long time — it’s nothing new.”
After a solid summer with his girls, Leslie is even more excited to see what he and his girls can do next season.
“We had a real good summer,” Leslie said. “There were a few games where I saw real good potential and we’re just looking to build off that and keep the momentum going.”