The interim tag is no more. Turner is now officially the head coach of the East Ascension Spartan basketball team.

Tyler Turner sat behind two great head coaches at East Ascension and patiently waited for his turn to one day become the leader of his alma mater.

He waited for a decade until Barry Whittington, Jr. abruptly left for an administrative position at Dutchtown. The keys were then handed to Turner for the rest of the season.

Now, East Ascension has handed those keys back to Turner, but he’s no longer borrowing the car. It’s his.

The interim tag is no more. Turner is now officially the head coach of the East Ascension Spartan basketball team.

“It’s a great feeling to become the head coach. It’s truly a blessing, but now that I am, it’s time to get to work. It’s time to get these guys prepared for the season ahead,” Turner said.

Turner, a Gonzales councilman and 2002 East Ascension graduate, may lack head coaching experience, but he’s been around as an assistant for 10 years at the school, and he has been groomed by Hall of Famer Kenny Almond and a former Class 5A Coach of the Year in Whittington.

Turner was an assistant under Almond for six years and was on his staff in 2013, when the Spartans made a run to the state semifinals.

He was an assistant for Whittington for four years. He was on his staff when the Spartans returned to the semifinals in 2016.

Midway through this season, Whittington resigned in order to become the new assistant principal at Dutchtown High. Turner was elevated to interim head coach.

Whittington knew the Spartans were in good hands. He said of Turner: “He's a good coach. I think he's well-equipped to do a good job.”

Although, things got off to a rocky start for Turner and East Ascension. They dropped their first three games, losing to heavy-hitters White Castle, Dutchtown and Walker.

“It helped a lot that I had already been around the kids for a while and I was able to watch them for so long, but it was still challenging,” Turner said. “Any time a coach leaves in the middle of the season, it’s a difficult transition. It’s hard for the kids to digest that, but my main goal was to keep the kids focused on our goals and to try to get our team to keep getting better.”

They did just that. The Spartans bounced back, finishing 5-3 in their final eight games. This included wins over University, Dutchtown and McKinley.

They went on to win a first-round playoff game against Denham Springs, before being eliminated by Dutchtown in the next round.

For the players that are returning for East Ascension, they’ve had Turner on the sideline throughout their entire careers with the Spartans. Turner said that he thinks that continuity is key as he now becomes the permanent head coach.

“It’s a big benefit for me that I’ve been able to be around these kids for so long and to have been able to be the head coach for part of last season,” Turner said. “I was able to get to know them, and I was able to learn how to teach and communicate with them.

“Already knowing how to interact with them is a big plus. I’ve also been able to show them how much I care for them as a coach and how much I want them to be successful.”

Turner is excited about the future of the program. They only lose three seniors and bring back talented players such as Hobert Grayson, Tre’ Joseph, Steven McBride, Cameron Dunbar and Camryn Carter.

“As long as these guys are willing to put in the hard work and dedication, I really think the sky is the limit for this team,” Turner said. “I think we could win a lot of games and be very successful in the playoffs if they’re willing to put in the preparation.”