Willie Chaney is finally back home.
Chaney, a decorated former Springfield High basketball player under former Bulldogs coach Mark Erdey, is joining the school’s boys basketball staff as an assistant coach.
“It’s a great feeling,” Chaney said. “I remember telling Coach Erdey when I graduated when I was going to play (college) ball, that I wanted to come back and take his job. I feel like I’m at peace now. I’m at home. I can be here 30 years. I’m not really worried about going anywhere now.”
Chaney, a 2000 graduate, was a part of a good chunk of the Bulldogs’ basketball history, winning a state title and four district titles, four parish championships, while compiling a 126-22 record during his four seasons, making him the player with the most wins in program history. The 2000 team was also the last Springfield team to advance to the Final Four.
The Bulldogs won the state championship during the 1996-97 season, when Chaney was a freshman and his brother, Anthony Hampton was on the team.
Springfield principal Spencer Harris said it will be good to have Chaney back on campus.
“I think it’s always healthy to bring someone from our community,” Harris said, noting Chaney will be a career coach at the school. “He’s a Springfield graduate, and he has the interest in wanting to see our community do well. He’s got his degree. He’s wanting to get into education. I didn’t have a teaching position, but it’s an opportunity to get him on campus and let him work with our students. It’s a chance for him to prove himself that he can be a successful mentor and leader for our students.”
Chaney played collegiately at the University of Mobile before playing professionally for four years in Mexico and Germany. He returned home to complete a degree in general studies at Southeastern Louisiana in 2018.
He also coached AAU teams for Glen Davis’ EP Elite and helped coach the Walker Biddy Basketball All-Star teams, which captured consecutive national titles.
He spent last season at Natalbany Middle School in Tangipahoa Parish, guiding the team to a 26-9 record and said he’s ready for the challenge of coaching high school basketball.
“High school is where I want to be at because the kids are older, they understand a little more, and it’s a lot different than junior high,” said Chaney, whose nephew is former Walker athlete Darius Hampton. “I’m going to enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to it, and (I’m) ready to turn Springfield back around to how it used to be when I was there.”
Chaney said he’s also looking forward to working with John Hii, who guided the Bulldogs to the District 10-2A title last season.
“Two heads are better than one joining with each other,” Chaney said. “There are some things he helped me out with, and there are some things I can help him out with. I think we’re going to get there.”
Hii said the feeling is mutual.
“It’s huge,” Hii said of adding Chaney to his staff. “He is a great example and role model to some kids, and he believes in working really hard. Best of all, he knows the game. He knows it inside-out, and just having him on staff and being able to have somebody in the community who was a part of it being a part of it again, that’s a big deal. It’s a no-brainer for anybody.”
Chaney, whose No. 3 jersey is retired, is also looking to carry on a family tradition as his son, Amir Chaney, will be an eighth-grader at Springfield Middle School this year. Willie Chaney said he and Anthony Hampton, who was killed in a car accident in January of 1998, are the only players to ever wear No. 3 for the Bulldogs.
“It’s going to be an honor to watch my son bring it out of retirement in the next year …,” Chaney said. “That’s kind of a big thing for me and my family – him going there, playing there. I went there, so Springfield is pretty much my whole life.”