Updated 5:45 p.m. July 12.
HIGH POINT — When Greg Vlazny stepped down as an assistant boys basketball at Southwest Guilford after the season, “It was extremely difficult, but it felt right,” he said.
A lot has happened with the Cowboys’ program since then.
First, Guy Shavers stepped down as head coach in April after 14 seasons and two state titles in the last three years.
Then, Shavers’ replacement, Brandon Mullis, was not retained after he was arrested last week and charged with taking indecent liberties with an underage female student at North Davidson High School, where he previously taught and coached.
This time, it felt right for Vlazny to pursue the job, and athletics director Brindon Christman announced his hiring today in an email.
Vlazny had left Southwest after 12 years to become sports director for the Jamestown Youth League, and he enjoyed his brief time there. “I cannot express enough gratitude to Ben Robinson, the president of the Jamestown Youth League, and Michelle Belcastro, the office manager,” he said.
“But deep down I knew that I was eventually going to get back into it,” Vlazny said of coaching high school basketball. “I just didn’t know when.”
He didn’t do anything involving high school basketball for a while after Southwest capped a 32-0 season with a NCHSAA Class 3-A title. But Vlazny decided to attend the annual summer jamboree in late June at Ragsdale as he and Shavers had done “forever.”
“I had stayed away for so long that I’d already gotten the itch,” he said. “I took my oldest, Cade, with me and it was like the good old days. I watched, scouted, took some notes. At the time I had no idea that would be beneficial to me.”
How beneficial became apparent when the Southwest job opened again last week. Vlazny called his wife, Brisa, shortly after learning that Mullis would no longer be the Cowboys’ coach.
“She said, ‘You know you want it, right?’ ” Vlazny said of the Southwest job. “Her support from the get-go is what helped me stop ignoring the voice in my head.”
Vlazny had already emailed Christman to offer his support to the Cowboys’ players.
“Out of sincere concern for the boys,” he said, “I reached out to Brindon to say, ‘Hey, I’m still around if you guys still need help with anything.’ ”
Christman replied within a couple of minutes and told Vlazny that he wanted to talk to him about the job.
“Then the voice in my head got a little bit louder,” Vlazny said.
Another voice he listened to was that of Shavers, who like Vlazny is a former UNCG player and who had been his coaching mentor since Vlazny graduated in 2007. They spoke by phone for at least an hour earlier this week.
“I wasn’t going to tell him my opinion until he told me what he was going to do,” Shavers said. “I wanted it to be his decision, but it’s so neat to see him have his chance to build his own legacy ... I told him — not that he would try to be — but not to try to be me. Be you and do your stuff.”
“He was excited that I was pursuing it,” Vlazny said of Shavers, who now lives in Weston, Fla. “Guy had been telling me that I’m ready to be a head coach for about eight years now."
“After 12 years, we used to joke that we were married,” Shavers said. “There were a lot of times when we’d finish each other’s sentences. We understood the spouses and the kids and everything else, and it was nice to have that confidant there.”
The two coaches shared the success of the Southwest Guilford basketball program that culminated in state championships this year and in 2017.
“It was great to build it together," Shavers said. "We went through the tough times. The first year he was there we won three games, and that made us appreciate it. … I don’t think anyone else quite understands to the level he does to finally get there.”
Staying there won't be easy with the Cowboys losing eight players to graduation, including UNCG signees Keyshaun and Kobe Langley and HSXtra.com Player of the Year Jay’den Turner (Queens).
“You don’t think about trying to replace them,” Vlazny said. “You just try to build on what we’ve got. We’ve talked about ‘the machine,’ and in a small part I helped build that machine. … Over the years we’ve had different pieces, but if you maintain that machine it can still work. It’s about guys buying in. ... I have very little intention of changing anything per se."
Vlazny, who previously taught English at Southwest and will return in the fall as a teacher in the Occupational Course of Study (OCS) department, said he will start trying to get that buy-in when he can start working with his players again later this month.
“This senior class is used to winning,” he said. “My task is to get them to understand that in order to maintain that level of success we have to triple our efforts with everything. We can’t be complacent.”
That’s a lesson Vlazny learned from Shavers.
“I’m just going to do my best to follow the amazing example I just had for the last 12 years,” he said.
HIGH POINT — Former assistant coach Greg Vlazny has been named head boys basketball coach at Southwest Guilford.
Vlazny replaces Brandon Mullis, who was hired in May. Mullis' contract was not renewed after he was charged with taking indecent liberties with an underage female student at North Davidson High School, where he previously taught and coached.
Vlazny was an assistant under Guy Shavers at Southwest for 12 seasons and was a big part of NCHSAA state championship teams in 2017 and 2019. He taught English at the high school until January, when he resigned to take the position of sports director for the Jamestown Youth League. Vlazny will return to Southwest in the fall as a teacher in the Occupational Course of Study (OCS) department.
Vlazny was part of the first graduating class at Cary Academy in 2001 and played basketball and soccer there. He left as the school’s all-time leading scorer in basketball. Vlazny continued his basketball playing career at UNCG and graduated in 2007. He and his wife, Brisa, have four children: Cade, 12; Brielle, 10; Nolan, 7; and Lincoln, 1.