Natchez native’s love of game, coaching takes him to top of game

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 30, 2001

Sometime around 1976, Terrance Dunkley fell in love. Not with a girl in his third-grade class, but with basketball.

Now, after being involved with the game for more than 25 years, Dunkley has found himself on the other side of the game – coaching.

After playing youth basketball for the Thompson Cougars, junior high basketball and a year at North Natchez High in the early 80s, Dunkley found himself coaching in a 15-year-old league in 1995.

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A friend at the Randolph (Air Force Base in San Antonio) Youth Center asked Dunkley to coach a team in the local girls league. He accepted – a move that would turn an old flame into a desire that now longs for the next level.

&uot;A guy asked me to start coaching 15-year-olds and we won for two years in a row,&uot; he said.

Then, as they say, came the call to the big leagues. Noticing Dunkley’s ability to lead a team, the base commander asked him to lead the base mens team.

&uot;The base commander asked me to coach the (Randolph) Ramblers,&uot; he said.

He posted a 21-7 record in his first year. This year, he posted a 40-1 record – with the team’s only loss coming in an African American Heritage Tournament.

&uot;We won our first 17 games,&uot; Dunkley said. &uot;We lost one game and won the rest of them.

&uot;This is my fourth season,&uot; he continued. &uot;We have always won. We won the city (championship) twice, but we’ve never been this dominant.&uot;

The 35-year-old coach thrives on coaching teams that pick apart the opposition.

&uot;What drives me is being able to look at another team and knowing what it takes to beat them,&uot; he said. &uot;Knowing what adjustments to make is what it’s about. It makes me feel good when we’re in a battle and the guys say ‘we did what coach told us to do and we won.’&uot;

Dunkley also enjoys learning each of his players, motivating them to win games – even 40 in a single season.

&uot;Learning each individual player and knowing how to motivate that player is great,&uot; he said. &uot;Motivating every player, knowing them and finding out how to get them to play harder -&160;that’s it.&uot;

The master sergeant, who has served in the U.S. Air Force for 15 years (since he graduated high school in 1985) is anxious to get into high school – and maybe even college coaching.

&uot;I’m anxious to get out of the Air Force,&uot; he said. &uot;When I get out, I’m going straight into the high school level. I want to teach and get into coaching.&uot;

Dunkley is the son of George and Eva Dunkley and has two children, Terrance Jr., 9, and Travis, 6, both of whom play basketball.