|Vandevender takes varsity reins
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Former Sumter High and Presbyterian standout named new SHS girls coach
By DENNIS BRUNSON
Item Sports Editor
Chris Vandevander — a.k.a. Chris Mitchum — has been hired as the new varsity girls basketball coach at Sumter High School.
Vandevander, who was a star player for Sumter in the late 1980s and early '90s before going on to an outstanding collegiate career at Presbyterian College, has been the junior varsity coach for the past six years. She took that job at the same time Jeff Schaffer, who resigned the post in February to become the golf director at a Columbia golf course, took over the varsity program.
"I'm just excited about this opportunity," said Vandevander, who graduated from SHS in 1992. "There is no where else I would rather coach than at Sumter High."
Vandevander, who coached at Alice Drive Middle School for three years before taking over the Sumter JV team, believes the fact that she has worked closely with Schaffer will make things easier as she and the players adjust to the new situation.
"The transition is going to be easier for both of us — me and the players," Vandevander said. "I've coached most of the girls who are returning. I think I've coached all but two of them who are returning on the varsity."
Sumter High athletic director Donna Bisom was Vandevander's head coach when she played for the Lady Gamecocks. Bisom said she was the right fit for the program.
"Chris is a home girl first of all, having played for Sumter High," Bisom said. "She was deadly from 3-point range. The fact that she's been working for us the past six years, that she knows the system, knows the kids, lives in the area and has a great reputation in the world of basketball makes her the best choice.
"How satisfying it is to be able to hire someone who played for you as a ninth-grader," Bisom added. "As I look back, Chris provided floor leadership, even as a freshman. She was always a student of the game, a coach on the court. She understood the timing of a timeout, the need for special plays that we worked on all the time and why we worked on fundamentals every single day."
The Lady Gamecocks were 98-56 under Schaffer, going 15-12 last season. While saying she hasn't had the opportunity to give it much thought, Vandevander doesn't expect too many changes in the program.
"Jeff's left the program in great shape," she said. "We started at the same time and he included me in a lot of decisions in the program and the direction in which it would go. I don't foresee a lot of changes."
While playing at Presbyterian, Vandevander was named to the All-South Atlantic Conference team her senior season and was the SAC Tournament Most Valuable Player as a junior to lead the Lady Blue Hose to their first ever SAC Tournament title. She holds the school record for most 3-point shots made in a career with 270 as well as the single season record of 83, set in 1995. (full story)