Ever since Central Coosa opened in 1988, Doris Gamble has been a staple for the Cougars.

Attending almost every sporting event, coaching and helping out when necessary, Gamble made for the perfect athletic director for the small Coosa school. And even before that, her presence was still felt as she was at Rockford High School.

Gamble worked her way up from PE teacher before getting involved with the basketball teams. She was statistician for the boys basketball team and head girls volleyball coach for a number of years. Gamble also served as athletic director.

“Basically wherever you needed her, she was there,” said former longtime Coosa coach Jeremy Freeman.

Now it seems Gamble has a prodigy. 

Upon announcing her retirement at the end of the school year, Gamble needed a replacement. And the person who took over is one who is rising in the ranks.

Brett Thomas has been named athletic director at Coosa.

“Fortunately, Ms. Gamble was meticulous in her recording keeping so the transition has been pretty easy,” Thomas said. “The only other thing for me is that it’s just added that responsibility of making sure all the roles are filled. We still don’t have a middle school (boys) basketball coach. We just hired a volleyball coach, so it’s just getting all the sports organized. We also have to get all the players eligibility forms in and things like that.”

Thomas has been at Coosa for several years now. He served under Freeman as the assistant boys basketball coach for two years, helping the Cougars to the Class 2A state championship in 2019. Thomas also took over as the football coach last year and served a year as the softball coach. He has also helped out with the girls basketball team and has coached several different age groups throughout his career.

“One thing about coach Thomas is he is very aware of all situations as far as procedures, student academic records, good scouting reports,” Freeman said. “All those intangibles that makes coaches who they are, he possesses those things. For him to transition into athletic director, it’ll be very, very easy for him because of his organizational skills and his knowledge of any particular sport.”

Thomas has already been hard at work replacing several coaches. After Freeman’s departure for Benjamin Russell, a new boys basketball coach had to be hired. Richard Bell, the previous middle school coach, was moved up to varsity. Chris Elliott was also hired as the volleyball coach, replacing Gamble, and Debbie Phillips was named softball coach after Thomas decided to drop that from his repertoire.

With a struggling athletic program outside of basketball, Thomas has put a lot of thought into how to bring the Coosa programs back to success. First, he’ll put his efforts into the football season which is just under a month away. But ultimately, he’s grateful for the opportunity to be athletic director and to help the Cougars move in the right direction.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Thomas said. “The opportunity for advancement is always great and the good thing of it is the administrators and coaches here are so easy to work with.”

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.