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Watauga High School Names Bryson Payne Head Basketball Coach

Watauga County Schools has named Bryson Payne as Watauga High School’s next Men’s Basketball Coach. Payne is set to take on the role after serving as head coach of the schools’ junior varsity and associate head coach to the varsity basketball team over the past four years.

Payne will take on the coaching position in addition to his current classroom role teaching American History and Civics at WHS.

Since coming on board with Watauga County Schools in 2016, Payne has worked in various capacities in the WHS basketball program. In his time at the school, he has coached at the Freshman and junior varsity levels and recently served as Associate Head Coach under former men’s coach Laura Barry. 

Watauga High School Principal Dr. Chris Blanton said Payne’s experience and commitment to his community made him the best candidate for taking the lead role in the WHS Basketball Program. 

“Our interview committee reviewed more than 25 resumes from interested candidates,” Blanton said. “While several qualified candidates expressed interest in the job, what we wanted most was a coach who was committed to being at WHS and who understood our players and families,” Blanton said. 

“We interviewed candidates with a wide range of experiences, but in the end, it was Bryson’s desire to be at WHS and his love for our school that took him to the top of the list. We want a coach who really wants to be here — who wants to invest himself in these players. The interview committee felt strongly that Bryson is that coach.”

The interview committee consisted of parents, coaches, Blanton, WHS Athletic Director Dustin Kerley and Assistant Superintendent Stephen Martin. After multiple rounds of interviews, the committee was unanimous in their recommendation of Payne to take on the head coaching position.  

Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott expressed his support for Payne as he takes on the new role, but also acknowledged the challenges ahead. 

“Mr. Payne is an excellent teacher, and great teachers make great coaches. We have the potential to have a high performing basketball program, but only if people — especially parents and players — buy into a team before self philosophy where every player is committed to both personal excellence and the success of the team. That formula has worked for our athletes in track, football, volleyball, and other sports. It can work in basketball, too.” Elliott said. 

“Pulling our basketball community together is a tall order for any first year head coach, but I believe Bryson is up to the challenge. I believe he can develop the positive culture, high expectations and team oriented program that our students deserve.”