It’s all in the Order.
Tom Clements, who has been at The Lakeside School for the last 13 years, is stepping down as athletic director and has returned to work as an operator at Tessenderlo Kerley. Clements, also Lakeside’s boys’ basketball coach, will finish out the season guiding the Chiefs.
Clements, 42, has tons of experience coaching in Barbour County, having worked early in his career at Dixie Academy in Louisville, as well as the Eufaula Parks and Recreation Department and Lakeside.
A former Eufaula High School quarterback, Clements is a 1996 graduate of EHS.
Despite all of his success, Clements said having his teams adhere to the Order was most important.
“When I told the team, they understood because they know the Order — God and faith first, family, academics, then athletics,” Clements said. “We don’t live and die by what we do on the court. But, if they take care of the top three things, they know we will be successful with No. 4.”
At 21, Clements was hired by former Eufaula Coach George Cochran at Dixie Academy, where he stayed from 1999-2004. At Dixie, Clements would assist in football, lead the baseball team, and coach girls’ basketball.
The Rebels were the state runners-up in baseball in his third season, losing to Demopolis Academy in 2002. Dixie had won seven games total in four years prior to Clements’ arrival, but they won 17 in his first season. In his second year, Dixie finished in the final four. Dixie girls’ basketball was ranked in the state top 10 for the first time ever under Clements after winning just two games the year before he arrived.
Then-Lakeside Headmaster Roy Umsted hired Clements prior to the 2004-05 season, where he was the assistant football coach under Duane Mark and the head varsity boys baseball coach. He spent 2009-11 is the school’s athletic director before leaving for Tessenderlo Kerley.
When he returned to Lakeside prior to the 2015 season, the Chiefs went 26-4 and finished as the AISA Class A runner-up. The next season, the Chiefs moved all the way to Class AAA yet made the elite eight. They would lose to Tuscaloosa Academy in the finals the following season.
Lakeside’s junior varsity boys lost just two games in three years, losing one in overtime and another in triple overtime. They went to three consecutive state finals, winning it all in 2015 and ’16.
“I coached all sports,” Clements said. “I learned a lot from Coach Cochran in just one season. He was big on discipline. He was against false pride, players that make themselves stand out. I learned a lot about organizational structure from him.
“I developed a good relationship with Coach Mock. I later coached with Coach (Dan) Klages (a former EHS coach) whom I had also played for. I also learned a lot from Coach (Rush) Propst (when Clements was the EHS quarterback). He was doing things in the mid-90s that team are doing today.
“I had to teach myself basketball. I played for Coach Paul Curtis at Eufaula. He was big on discipline, too. Jessie Warren was also a coach I learned a lot from. When I started coaching I learned so much from Ricky Ward. He was excellent in fundamentals.
“On the baseball side of things I learned the most from Danny Wiggins. My dad took me to meet him when I was just 12. He was in the Boston Red Sox organization he became a pitching coach at Lakeside. Baseball is probably just what I know most about. But, I fell in love coaching basketball.”
As a head baseball coach, Clements compiled a record of 216- losses. As a varsity basketball coach, he is 291-141 with a shot at 300 before the season ends.
Married to whom he calls his best friend, Kim, Clements has a daughter, Peyton Henderson, who will graduate at Troy University this year then heading to UAB. He also has daughter, Kaylee Clements, a fourth grader at Lakeside; stepson, Cole White, also a fourth grader at Lakeside; and stepdaughter, Dylin Kate White, a sixth grader.
Clements cited a major factor in his leaving was the fact that private schools don’t offer a strong benefits package.
“I really enjoyed working at Lakeside,” Clements said. “I have a lot of good friends out there. I wish Coach (Josh) McConnell and Dr. (John) Mehaffey all the best. If I have any advice left to give it’s that kids need to play more sports rather than specializing in just one. Parents need to realize that.”
McConnell has taken over duties as the school’s athletic director as well as being the Chiefs’ head football coach. Mehaffey is the Lakeside headmaster.
“I need to thank my parents,” Clements said. “My parents have been a big part of my success in coaching in many ways. My father coached me from the time of tee ball age all the way through pre-majors baseball at the age of 16. He was a big disciplinarian and taught me to never quit or give up. My mother was me and my siblings’ biggest supporters in all that we did, and taught us the importance of supporting one another in everything that we participated in. They still to this day come out and support me and my brother at ball games and that means the world to my brother and I.”