Alba-Golden boys coach keeping family tradition


There is no doubt what Craig Philo believes about his new position as head basketball coach of the Alba-Golden Panthers. “God led me to Alba-Golden,” he stated matter-of-factly.

The journey to the small school just up Hwy. 69 started many years ago as his father patiently coached him in youth sports.

“My father was the greatest influence in my life and in my coaching,” shared Philo at a break in the Hawkins Holiday Hoops tournament. Philo explained how his father gave him his love of coaching, a passion that has been lifelong.

Patient teaching is a singular characteristic of his coaching style. His bench demeanor is above all things composed. Philo believes that a positive, supportive role is a necessity in leading, and coaching is the practice of leadership.     

The road to Alba-Golden was a long one. After graduating from Corsicana High School, schooling at Navarro Junior College and Stephen F. Austin University prepared him to enter the coaching brotherhood. His time at Navarro exposed him to the legendary coach Lewis Orr, who coached at Navarro for 32 years, producing 25 winning seasons and six conference titles.  

Successful coaching stints at Sulphur Springs and Miller Grove followed. After more than a decade in the profession, a debilitating illness removed him from arena. A lot of hard work and sacrifice saw him battle back to resume his lifelong ambition to have an impact on young peoples’ lives.  

Philo and his wife Jennifer, long-time residents of Sulphur Springs, saw that opportunity come in a fortuitous phone call with Alba-Golden Athletic Director Drew Webster.  “Alba-Golden was a natural fit for me,” Philo summarized. 

A mere week away from beginning district play with a Jan. 7 match-up against Mineola, Philo is building a fundamentally-solid squad. The Panthers are led by a strong group of seniors, Jon-Michael Chadwick, Jacob Daley, Tim Mitchell, Hayden Weissert and Blane Whatley; juniors, Boedy Baker, Will Hartin and Kyle Kennedy; and  sophomore, Blake Weissert.

“I am very pleased with how these young men have grown together,” Philo commented. 

From a scheme prospective, Philo described that the Panthers will exploit what they do well, maintain their composure and compete like there is no tomorrow. He sees a lot of potential in the team.

“We can definitely make something happen,” Philo offered. 

The Panthers will no doubt benefit from a coach who has returned to his lifelong love of coaching after having fought through adversity. Philo is steadfast in his confidence, “I am here because of faith,” he stated.