Smosny-McGriff returns to Berkmar as head coach

When the 2012-13 high school basketball season tips off in the fall, Berkmar will have a new varsity girls coach for the third time in the last four seasons.

However, the Patriots will have a very familiar face leading them with the announcement of former Berkmar assistant coach Tina Smosny-McGriff as the new head coach.

Smosny-McGriff replaces Todd McCutcheon, who resigned last week after two seasons as the Patriots head coach.

She served as an assistant at Berkmar under former head coach Tamara Brooks, during which the Patriots made three straight trips to the Class AAAAA state tournament, and spent the last three seasons as an assistant to Cynthia Cooper at Grayson.

However, she continued to teach Spanish at Berkmar and commute to practice at Grayson. So, she should be quite familiar with the players currently in the Patriots' program as she prepares for her first head coaching job.

"I love the school. I love the (Berkmar) community. I live in Lilburn. So, I'm really excited," said Smosny-McGriff, who started her coaching career as an assistant at Meadowcreek in 2000. "A lot of these girls, Tamara and I had when we conducted (summer) clinics when they were in sixth and seventh grade. We were working really closely with the middle school programs. ... Some of the girls have been in my class or had brothers or sisters in my class. So, I already have a relationship with some of them."

That Smosny-McGriff is already on the faculty at Berkmar also made the transition easier for school administrators after McCutcheon tendered his resignation last week.

McCutcheon came to Berkmar in 2009 as an assistant when his wife Julie was hired to replace Brooks, and assumed the head coaching reins when Julie McCutcheon took an assistant coaching job at nearby Jackson County a year later.

Todd McCutcheon said the time demands of head coaching, combined with the commute from his home in Jackson County, was the main reason behind his decision.

"It was 100 percent a family decision," said McCutcheon, who guided the Patriots to to a 25-30 record in two seasons, including a 17-12 mark and a berth in the state tournament in 2010-11. "We've got a 5-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old daughter, and with Julie also coaching, it was tough on them."

McCutcheon said that while it is possible he could seek a coaching job closer to his family's home, he will remain at Berkmar for the time being as a teach and assistant softball coach.

And he also believes he is leaving the program in good hands with Smosny-McGriff.

"(Berkmar principal) Mr. (Ken) Johnson and (athletics director) Mr. (Dan) Knudsen have really worked with me, and I thank them for that," McCutcheon said. "And I was happy to hear (that Smosny-McGriff would be the new coach). I think it's a great hire."