SHELBYVILLE – Rick Insell was hired to coach girls basketball at Shelbyville Central High School in 1977 and turned the program into a state power during a legendary career that spanned 28 seasons.
Forty-three years after his hiring, and 15 years after resigning to become head coach at his alma mater, MTSU, the Shelbyville High School gymnasium was named in his honor.
Shelbyville Central officially dedicated the Rick Insell Gymnasium in a ceremony at the high school gymnasium last Saturday.
“This is a tremendous honor that caught me by surprise,” Insell said. “I can’t begin to explain how humbling it is to have your name associated with something as special as the high school gymnasium is to me. There are many great memories there. I was speechless when I was called and informed of the decision.
“This great honor represents all of the outstanding players, assistant coaches and supporters who helped make Shelbyville Central High School girls basketball what it became,” Insell continued. “I believe our players took great pride in being an Eaglette, and I took great pride in being their coach.”
Shelbyville posted a 775-149 record during Insell’s tenure, winning a record 10 TSSAA Class AAA championships. During one stretch, Shelbyville played in the state championship game in 15 out of 21 years.
Insell guided teams to Tennessee state records for most consecutive wins (110), consecutive state titles (4) and most state championships for a coach (10).
The Golden Eaglettes also won 23 district championships and 16 regional championships under Insell.
Shelbyville Central was named USA Today National Champions in 1989 and 1991. Insell was named National Coach of the Year four times.
The 1991 team was selected as the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Team of the Year – the first high school team ever to be recognized. The Golden Eaglettes also received an invitation to the Oval Office from President George H. W. Bush for academic and athletic achievement.
“Doing what we did was not easy,” Insell said. “A lot of sacrifices were made along the way. We had something very special at Shelbyville Central and it was due to the hard work, passion and sacrifices made by our players, parents and supporters. Being an Eaglette was very special.”
Insell has been enshrined into seven Hall of Fames, including the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, National High School Hall of Fame, TSSAA Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. He just completed his 16th season as head coach at MTSU where he is the school’s all-time winningest basketball coach.