By Steve Williams
Aaron Large may be taking on his first head coach position, but he’s not short on coaching experience.
The new Gibbs High boys basketball coach was an assistant football coach for the Eagles for 11 years and elevated to defensive coordinator on Brad Turner’s staff in 2022. Having been a position coach on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, he took on more of a leadership role as the DC.
He also was an assistant basketball coach for six years under former Gibbs head coach Timmy Meade.
Large, a 2007 Gibbs grad, was a two-sport player in high school, playing basketball for Coach Geff Davis his first three years and then his senior season under Rick Anderson.
Aaron was a quarterback in high school and continued to play football in college at Carson-Newman for legendary coach Ken Sparks. He graduated from C-N in 2011 and came back home to coach at Gibbs.
With his background in two sports, Large was asked if he had more of an interest in either one. His reply was whatever “was the season,” and added he would rather see today’s kids competing in multiple sports too rather than specializing in one.
An EFL through and through
Born in 1989 and now 34 years old, Large is definitely an Eagle for Life.
That tagline probably has more to do with the Gibbs Eagles, than C-N’s Eagles, but the latter was a nice bonus.
“I grew up here,” he said. “I played baseball and football at Ruritan (Park). I played GYA basketball. I know this community. I know the kids we have here and hopefully I can bring some success.”
He met his wife, Sarah, who is from Lincoln County in Middle Tennessee, at Carson-Newman. They have twin boys, Asher and Brady, who are 2½ years old. “They are going to be here running around the gym like crazy,” said dad.
Coach Large has interest in Gibbs’ past as well as the present and future. An opening comment on his Twitter account testifies to that: “As an alumnus of Gibbs High School, I love to know and hear the history of the players and teams that came before me and after me.”
Large wants an ‘exciting’ style of play
“I want to put an exciting product on the floor,” said Large. “I don’t want my kids to hesitate. They need to be full-go. Up tempo, confident, wreaking havoc but in a controlled environment on the defensive side, and offensively, we are going to be moving the ball and we are going to be moving on offense. It’s not going to be very stagnant. It’s a pass and cut offense with a lot of screens. If the ball gets to a certain spot, we are going to be moving.”
Large said he probably learned the most about the game of basketball from his two high school coaches (Davis and Anderson), and there were others too that he learned from along the way.
“My dad (Tim Large) was a player here at Gibbs. I learned a lot from him growing up. He pushed me as a player and taught me a lot.
“Obviously, having Coach (Randy) Carroll in football (played a part),” added Aaron. “He’s a great man and taught me a lot too when it comes to having that leadership role.”
Large also said he benefitted from being able to work for some of the best coaches in the community as well.
“I’m a constant researcher and constant learner, so I’m never satisfied in my knowledge; I want to know more,” he said.
“That’s kind of what I’ve told my (candidates) for the assistant coaching positions. ‘If I hire you, I want you to push me. I don’t just want it to be me pushing you; I want you guys to push me. I’m not always going to be right. I don’t know everything. I’m still learning, so we can learn together.’”
Large wants to hire three new assistants: a freshman coach, junior varsity coach and an assistant varsity coach.
He’s excited about the opportunity
“One of my big things is I want our kids to serve our community,” said Coach Large. “I want them to be out and seen in local businesses, churches and schools. I want us to help them. They help us enough; we want to help them as well.”
Although it’s been almost 60 years ago, Aaron has heard about the school’s great basketball season in 1964-65, and he mentioned the ’82 team, the ’87 team, and the 2013 team that reached the state tournament in the classification era.
“Now those are big-time teams in the Gibbs community,” he said. “A lot of those players still come around. I want them to be up here as much as they can.”
Large also pointed out there are “a lot of resources on the current staff” at Gibbs.
“We’ve got state championship coaches here at this school,” he said. And if needed in his first season as a head coach, Large said, “I’m going to be leaning on those people.”