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Coaches Corner: Getting to know Coach Nathaniel Root

Nathaniel Root is happy to home, especially after the love and support in welcoming in as the Adamsville High School head basketball coach.

Born and raised in Adamsville by George and Nona Root, Nathaniel has a twin sister, Natalie, and an older brother George III. George III is a lawyer in Tampa and Natalie owns a photography business in New Orleans.

“We were all spaced out everywhere until I moved back home,” said Root.

“I feel I have been blessed with an unbelievable opportunity in my life,” said Root. “I feel it is meant for me to come back here and try to have an impact on these kids and have them realize and reach their goals and their dreams.”

Nathaniel remembers Coach Greg Martin calling him and asking him to coach the boys in practice, while he sat back and observed.

“When I did for those couple of days, it just hit me,” said Root. “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life, is to coach basketball.”

Going into his sophomore year for Coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers, Root began to prepare himself for coaching by learning and watching the Tigers coach.

“My senior year, we are playing Syracuse in the Garden. It was the first game of the year for both of us. Three of our starters were suspended. Three minutes into the game, Anthony Wright got two fouls.”

Calipari subs Root into the game for his best memory in basketball.

“To say I played against Carmello is pretty cool and exciting. We beat them by 9 or 10.”

“My junior year of college against UAB, Coach Calipari started me and my buddy Anthony for the first time.”

His mom and dad were in the stands with no idea that Nathaniel was going to be a starting player. He remembers his dad telling him how excited they were to see him announced onto the floor with all the lights out.

“Second play of the game, the score is 0-0. We post the ball, they leave me open to go trap, and it was thrown out to me. I nailed a three and the place goes nuts.”

“I couldn’t have wrote it any better,” said Root. “The confidence Coach Cal showed in me. He could have started me and then with the first dead ball call me out and put the point guard back in, but he didn’t. He went with me and let me play and really trusted me.”

As a young boy, Root started out at Bethel Springs Elementary and later moved to Adamsville when his mom landed a teaching position. From the second grade he continued his education at Adamsville until his high school graduation.

Nathaniel played several sports throughout school including soccer, baseball, and basketball.

“I entered my seventh grade year and my parents finally let me play football. I decided it wasn’t for more real quickly but played the whole year.”

As high school approached he began to focus on basketball and since soccer was in the offseason he played the two sports.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is I was better at soccer than I was at basketball,” said Root. “But basketball was my love and my passion.”

The soccer program had only just begun in Nathaniel’s sophomore year at Adamsville. Many games were lost, but the team made an effort to build.

“My senior we won the district and won the region and was put out the in quarter finals. In three years we really accomplished a lot.”

The basketball team made it to state in his senior year with a record of 27-4. “My 99 team that came through here is the best team to ever play at Adamsville.”

Adam Siders has been reconstructing the book written about Root, but the book will soon make its debut.

Later at the University of Memphis Nathaniel graduated with a degree in Fitness Training and Management.

Randy Culpepper was one player that stood out under his instruction.

“The kid came in very talented but never been coached and was wild. He had all the potential,” said Root. “To watch him grow in the three years we were able to spend with him.”

“Even though he was 5 foot 9 it didn’t matter, you would take a whole team of them because they would do whatever it took.”

If the NBA lockout doesn’t have an effect, Root says Culpepper will be seen on the professional court.

“The kid is 5 foot 9 with a 10 foot heart.”

He will give instruction in Visual Communication at the high school level in the upcoming year. 

“My focus is nothing but this basketball team and educating and helping the kids take that next step in their life whether it is basketball or college or into the working environment.”

Nathaniel adds, “Make decisions on your own. If you’re in a bad situation, make changes. You don’t want to go through your life wishing. You have to make yourself happy.”

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