Coastal Alabama’s Pitts announces retirement, Yelding named as successor

For the first time in nearly 30 years, a new head coach will be on the sidelines when the Sun Chiefs women’s basketball team begins its season in November. Over the summer Linda Pitts —one of the most successful coaches in the history of Coastal Alabama Community College — announced her retirement after 28 seasons leading the Sun Chiefs, and more than 40 as a head coach.

Her successor is a familiar face to fans and players alike: Cedric Yelding, who served as Pitts’s assistant coach for the last two seasons.

“Coach Pitts and I have such a good relationship, and worked well together very quickly because we share a lot of the same philosophies,” Yelding said.

When he was hired as an assistant in 2020, Yelding had no experience coaching at the collegiate level, but was coming off a successful 20-year career in high school athletics in Baldwin County. At his most recent post, he led Daphne High School to five regionals, played for two regional championships and won eight area championships.

A star point guard for the University of South Alabama’s Sun Belt Conference championship teams in the early 90s, Yelding maintains a close relationship with USA athletics to this day and was recently recruiting players at the Elite Basketball Camp held at the Mitchell Center in Mobile. He hopes to make an immediate impact in recruitment as head coach of the Sun Chiefs.

“There’s a lot of talent all over the state, and I plan on hitting the trails and recruiting hard,” Yelding said.

Coastal Alabama Community College Athletic Director Daniel Head said promoting Yelding was an obvious choice, but recognized how much Pitts will be missed throughout the college system.

“Her loyalty and commitment to our student athletes has been incredible for the 20-plus years she’s been here,” Head said. “Coach Pitts is all about serving the students, which includes teaching full time, which is a part of the job she loves.

“She’s just as passionate about that as she is when she’s out on the court with her players, so it’ll be a major adjustment for our entire college, not having her in those various roles.”

Having followed Yelding’s career all the way back to his days leading the South Alabama Jaguars, Head said he’s watching him grow in his collegiate coaching experience.

“He’s such a great basketball guy,” Head said of Yelding. “Coach Pitts has been a great mentor to him and with him being very well known throughout the region, it’s another feather in the athletic department’s cap to have such a strong leader over the program.”

Yelding said one of his key goals above and beyond success on the court is maintaining the stellar player graduation rate that was so important to his predecessor.

“That’s where I’ll lean on my experience and let everyone know that academics come first,” he said. “We’re going to go to class and graduate on time. And basketball will be secondary to that.”

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