Grace Baptist Academy's new leadership for varsity high school basketball should be familiar to fans who have been following the programs for a while, though for different reasons.
More than a decade ago, Wallace Foster was standing out for Grace. A few years later, Mariah Cummings was doing her best to stand in Grace's way. Now both will be working to help the Golden Eagles and Lady Golden Eagles succeed on the court — and beyond.
The school announced Friday that Cummings is taking over as coach of the girls' program, while Foster is tasked with the guiding the boys.
Cummings led the Chattanooga area in scoring from her sophomore through senior seasons for Silverdale Baptist Academy, where she set a school record with 2,466 points. The flashy point guard went on to play for Eastern Kentucky University, averaging 8.2 points, three assists and one steal per game while making 81% of her free throws.
For the past four years, Cummings has coached the middle school girls' basketball program at Grace, which won a postseason tournament title in 2022.
"Grace took me in knowing that I was somebody who would give them a hard time on the floor in my playing days," Cummings (formerly Massengill said. "But they welcomed me like I had been a part of their family for forever. Honestly, coaching and working full time at Grace has made me wish I would have attended school here. They have been a home away from home for me and my family."
Foster, a 2008 graduate of Grace, was a three-sport standout in baseball, basketball and football for the Golden Eagles who went on to play college baseball at nearby Tennessee Wesleyan. He returns to his high school alma mater after spending the past five years as the Hunter Middle School boys' basketball coach and serving three years as an assistant for Silverdale Baptist's high school boys' program.
"I am very humbled," Foster said. "This school really shaped me as a person, and I am more than blessed and thankful that God had in my plan for me to return here to coach basketball. I am excited to build relationships and bring our student-athletes closer to Christ. There are big things ahead for our school and athletic programs."
Cummings shares a similar vision for her Lady Golden Eagles.
"On the court, I want them to love the game and have success, but most importantly I want them to be stronger followers of Christ," she said. "It's not all about the game. The basketball is going to stop bouncing one day. I want these kids to win the battle of life instead of the battle of basketball. That's something I have always prided myself in."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at [email protected].