High school basketball: Long-time assistant Monroe is coaching Carson girls

Published 4:49 am Friday, June 16, 2023

By Mike London

CHINA GROVE — New Carson girls basketball head coach Chloe Monroe is nine years and two months removed from a life-saving bone marrow transplant, so she’s not going to get overly stressed about a lousy call from a ref or an over-zealous fan yelling advice from the stands.

“The health issues I had to deal with when I was a college sophomore, that kind of teaches you what’s really important in life and what’s not,” Monroe said. “I still have some side effects from the transplant. I needed hip surgery last year, but I’m feeling good now. I’m excited about being a head coach.”

Monroe follows Brooke Stouder, who turned around a program that got off to a challenging start with four wins in its first 71 games. People felt sorry for the Cougars for a while, but by the time Stouder finished, she (and Carson) were 263-183 and the program was respected by everyone. Those 446 games Stouder coached included a 3A state championship win against Asheboro. That victory capped an undefeated 2021 season by the girls in blue and orange. The proof is in the school trophy case.

Monroe was one of the players who helped Stouder turns things around in China Grove. As a freshman, she was called up to the varsity midway through the 2008-09 season and made an impact with her 3-point shooting and aggressive defense. By the 2010-11 season, the Cougars were winning big. In 2011-12, when Monroe was a senior, the program won its first championship.

“Following Brooke, those obviously are some very big shoes to fill,”Monroe said. “You’re talking about someone who coached every game the Carson girls basketball program has ever played. But I’ve been on the bench with her for seven years, ever since I was hired to teach at Carson. I think I’m in a good place right now. I want to maintain the traditions that Brooke started, but at the same time, I want to make my own mark.”

While Monroe has depth and maturity and life experience, she’s still only 29 and won’t be 30 until November, the month when she’ll make her official debut as Carson’s head coach.

She is very bright and is revered as a math teacher at Carson. A UNC graduate, she was Carson’s Teacher of the Year in 2022.

“A huge honor,” she said modestly. “Not something that I even dreamed about so early in my teaching career.”

Carson was still strong and won more state championships the year after most of the state championship squad graduated, but there’s a different dymanic now. Carson hasn’t had sufficient numbers the last two seasons to have jayvee teams. The 2022-23 Carson varsity was one of the least experienced varsity teams of all-time and went 3-21.

There’s going to be a rebuilding process. Monroe understands that and is ready to tackle it.

Allie Martin, a sophomore, was the team’s best player last season and made the all-conference and all-county teams. She’ll be a leader the next two seasons.

“One thing that is different now is that most of the basketball players in the school, even Allie, aren’t basketball-first,” Monroe said. “They play volleyball or softball or soccer or tennis, and that’s great, but we want to get them in the gym as much as we can and get a ball in their hands. We’re doing workouts now and we’ve got a camp at UNC Charlotte coming up.”

Carson basketball will be missing assistant coach Dee Miller as well as Stouder next season, but Monroe said experienced Lu Gamewell will still be helping, either as a varsity assistant or head jayvee coach.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to field a jayvee team next season,” Monroe said. “That would be big for the program. If we get all the freshmen that we hear we’re getting, we could have jayvees.”

Carson doesn’t have one feeder school. It gets some of the athletes from Southeast, China Grove and Erwin middle schools, so there’s always some mystery with regard to exactly who is coming.

Back in the day, Monroe was a tough on-the-floor Cougar. She actually was Carson’s leading career scorer when she graduated in 2012, although her total of 856 points has been eclipsed quite a few times since she received her high school diploma.

Monroe was all-county in basketball in 2010-11 and 2011-12. One of her teammates when she was a senior was freshman Alex Allen, who is now the head coach at South Rowan.

In high school, Monroe was even better at softball than basketball and was named Rowan County Player of the Year after a fantastic 2012 season.

Monroe has been helping Hunter Gibbons coach Carson softball, although the time demands of trying to coach a competitive basketball program are expected to end Monroe’s softball duties.

She’ll miss softball, but basketball has her heart now.

“I was always better at softball than basketball when I played, but basketball is the sport that I’ve always loved to coach,” Monroe said.