One of the Coast's top girls basketball coaches is leaving to take over at her alma mater.
Hancock's Pam Slayton has stepped down to take the same job at Slidell (La.) High School. She leaves Hancock after 16 successful seasons of leading the Lady Hawks.
"I graduated from (Slidell) so I'm coming back home," Slayton said Monday. "I was retired in Louisiana and I've been in Mississippi for 16 years. The time was right. It was a good time to do it, but it's kind of a surprise to me. It wasn't anything I anticipated. It's interesting how it worked out. I'm looking forward to being able to come in and build the program at Slidell High."
Slayton's greatest moment at Hancock came in 2004 when she led the Lady Hawks to the Class 5A state championship. She led Hancock to the 6A state quarterfinals in 2015, one of several trips to Jackson for her teams.
Slayton, who graduated from Slidell in 1973, said that the chance return to her old high school was a special one considering the school didn't even have a girls basketball team when she was a student.
"I call myself a pre-Title IX baby," Slayton said. "There were no sports for girls (at Slidell). I think Mississippi did a really good job of having athletics for girls. We did not have any. I often wondered why girls couldn't play. It was very hard for me. I didn't look at it as unfair, but why not? I got into coaching for that reason and I had a passion all my life about doing it and providing a place for young girls to be able to play. At Slidell, it's truly a sense of coming back home to where I started."
Slayton coached for 20 years at Salmen High School in Slidell before taking on the job at Hancock, where she made plenty of close friends over 16 years. She coached the Lady Spartans to back-to-back state championships in 1996 and 1997.
"It really hasn't sunk in," Slayton said of leaving Hancock. "Right now, I just see the faces of people I came to love and respect over the years. I'm coming away from a place where I built a lot of friendships and relationships. They're very special people. Leaving Hancock, it's going to be very strange to me. I invested a lot of time in that place. As excited as I am about the change, I'm not sad at all. I am happy about the relationships that I have and I feel like I'm walking away having done the best job I can do."
Slayton replaces Raymond Winzy, who was fired in March following his arrest for allegedly having sex with female students.