CURRY — Jason Johnsey has been following basketball in Walker County from afar for years.
Now he’s right in the middle of it.
Johnsey is the new Curry High School boys basketball coach, a move made official in mid-May.
A long and winding road has brought the 1992 T.W. Martin High School graduate back to county. He spent the last two years as the freshman boys head coach at Cullman High School. He was also a boys head varsity coach at Fayette County (2018-19) and started his career with stops with the Thompson High School girls program and Helena High School boys program.
Johnsey, 47, moved back to the area three years ago when he took the Fayette County job.
“Since I’ve moved back, this is the local school for me,” Johnsey said of Curry. “I would leave practice and drive from Cullman back home, and if Curry was playing, I would stop and go to a ball game.”
Now he’s in charge of a program just a few years removed from a regional tournament appearance. Curry went 10-14 this year under coach Mike Cain, who stepped down from his post after the end of the season.
“I’m excited to be here. I feel like there is potential to be the preeminent program in the county. I like the fact that the community embraces basketball,” Johnsey said. “The trend is upward so we need to get back to where it was when coach Cain had them going 19-11 and took them to the regional. The sub-regional needs to be the floor of what we expect every year.”
Johnsey started his athletic career at T.W. Martin. After graduating, both Jason and his twin brother Jeremy went off to Mount St. Clare College in Clinton, Iowa. Johnsey played basketball and baseball at the school. From there, he returned to Alabama and went to Auburn University, graduating with a degree in economics.
He spent 14 years in the business world before making a change.
“Business started slowing down. and I thought, ‘I’m going to do what I want to do, which is teach and coach,’” Johnsey said.
He got his Masters of Education from the University of West Alabama in 2012 and has been teaching and coaching since. He spent the last two years at Cullman, under coach Bobby Meyer, but wanted another opportunity as a head coach.
Johnsey brings a meticulous approach to Curry.
How meticulous? Every practice is planned from start to finish down to the second. Johnsey also plans to record the Yellow Jackets’ summer games and go over the film before the next game in order to make corrections. He is also in the process of scouting summer opponents.
“I learned from a lot of smart people. I’ve got a schedule for the year already planned out. The idea is that they know that basketball is important to me like it is for them. There is a plan. We don’t just do something for no reason. I’m going to be expecting a lot from them and that’s what I told them, too,” Johnsey said.
“I’m hoping that we can create something here, especially with the younger kids. We need to get into the youth programs and have them running scaled down versions of what we do offensive and defensively. That way, whenever they get to middle school or the ninth-grade level the learning curve isn’t there. You don’t have to spend three weeks with them on the basics, they will already know it. You are just adding things to it that will make you more efficient.”
Curry was ousted by Oneonta in the first-round of the area tournament last season, losing 43-33. The Yellow Jackets could bring back as many as eight seniors, who were on last year’s varsity team.
“We are going to make this place the place to come watch basketball, and it’s because of them,” Johnsey said he told his team in the first meeting. “The first thing you have to do is get the seniors on board. I told them about how the program needs to be run. At first, I will be correcting everything. The next step is — you fix you and I didn’t have to tell you to do that. The final stage is where you hold others accountable. That builds a family structure and helps everybody to buy in. The seniors are the ones you have to get on that train first. Luckily for us, we’ve got 7 or 8 seniors. They’ve got to know that whenever you ask them to do something it’s for the betterment of the team.
“There is some talent on this team. The hope is that it doesn’t really matter if you had 17 points or 2 points, we are trying to get to where we are playing in late February and March.”