Speeney, a Paulding County resident, didn’t enjoy his daily commute to Roswell, so Williams suggested that, if he could get Speeney a job as an assistant coach, then Speeney should take it.
“He said he’d take it in a heartbeat,” Williams said.
A few days later, Speeney was hired as one of Williams’ assistants, and since then, the two men, along with fellow assistant Adam Cogbill, have guided North Cobb to six straight postseason appearances, capped by the state semifinals this past season.
When Williams elected to step down as head coach after the season to spend more time with family, Speeney was a logical fit to take over.
“He’s an Xs-and-Os guy,” Williams said. “He knows basketball as well as anybody else around. As long as the kids buy into what he’s teaching them and how he likes to do things, they’ll be successful. He’s a great guy and I’m sure he’ll do a great job.”
Speeney showed interest in the head-coaching job when he heard that Williams would be giving up the reins.
“When Matt told me he was going to step down, I spoke to him about taking over the job,” Speeney said. “He told me to take my time and think about. He supported me becoming the new coach, so I talked about it with my wife and confided with Matt again, and he said go do it.
“I have some big shoes to fill. Matt was a great basketball coach and a great leader for those girls. He taught kids the right way, and they understood him. It will be tough to replace him, but I’m excited to take over, and I’ll try to keep the level of success moving forward and do things the right way.”
Speeney, a 19-year coaching veteran who teaches biology at North Cobb, spent eight years at South Cobb as an assistant basketball and football coach, and he served as the Lady Eagles’ girls soccer coach for eight seasons. He spent two years as the girls basketball coach at Centennial and coached football and girls soccer before coming to North Cobb.
A graduate of East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, Speeney ran track and cross country in college. He lettered in basketball, football, and ran track and field and cross country at Madison Central High School in Old Bridge, N.J.
“I love sports,” Speeney said. “I had great coaches growing up. I substitute-taught back at my high school during winter break and loved it, so that’s how I got into teaching. While I was doing that, I spoke to my old basketball coach and helped him out and had a great time doing that, and that’s how I got into coaching.”
Speeney inherits a team that lost four seniors to college scholarships, but he returns several standout players in Aniya Corley, Alexis Luster, Kyrie’ Chandler, Ty Broadwater and Chantel Strahorn.
“I think my background with the kids, familiarity with the program, school and administration, and Matt’s endorsement, were all big factors in me getting this job,” Speeney said. “Being (at North Cobb), and those guys knowing how I work, was important to them.
“I have good kids coming back. That’s one reason why I decided to apply for the job. I’m excited to get started.”