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Principal Rick Brown ‘anxious’ to find VHS coach

Jake Martin

Sports Reporter

Vidalia — Vidalia High principal Rick Brown had every intention to have a football coach for Vidalia High School in place by the end of February.

As the end of the month draws closer, the realization of not filling the position by that intended deadline has set in.

“We’re just as anxious as anybody to get somebody in here,” Brown said. “We were shooting for February, but we just can’t right now. Because of the different areas the candidates are coming from, we have to send out questionnaires and talk to a lot of them on the phone. It’s been difficult. We’re still shooting to get it done as soon as possible.”

Brown said he has been overwhelmed with interest in the position. Applicants stretch from as far as Michigan. Three of the eight finalists who Brown picked out of 22 applicants hail outside Louisiana. Vidalia Junior High principal Whest Shirley served on the coaching search committee, and the vast interest for the position staggered Shirley, as it did Brown.

“Last count I was told 32 emails of interest and by deadline they had 22 actual applicants for the job,” Shirley said. “I was surprised because last time we only had seven applicants. I was shocked by both the number and by the locations they came from across the United States.”

Brown is thankful for the pursuit in the position, but the long distance has also made the hiring process difficult.

Shirley agreed, acknowledging the icy weather’s contribution in delaying the process.

“It actually caught everybody at a bad time of the year with the ice and all of the extra things going on,” Shirley said.

In the midst of spring sports seasons commencing, playoff basketball getting under way and testing just around the corner, Brown’s workload is never light. Brown said he still devotes time daily to concentrate his efforts on hiring a new football coach.

“This is the most extensive search, hire, whatever you want to call it that I’ve been a part of here at Vidalia,” Brown said.

Shirley called it the biggest coaching hire Vidalia High School is going to make in several years, and the reason for that is because of the impact football has on athletics and academics.

“Academics is important. but football sets the tone for the whole year,” Shirley said. “Kids generally don’t come to school to read and write, they come to participate in extracurricular activities. As a principal, myself, I know that’s one of the major driving forces.”

A thorough coaching search takes time, and in order to bring excitement back to Vidalia football, Brown isn’t taking shortcuts.

“Honestly, any of them would be a good head football coach,” Brown said. “We’re just making sure we get the right person in here with the right moral character. Someone who embodies everything we’re looking for.”

While the uncertainty of Vidalia’s vacant coaching position looms, Brown eyes spring practice with a new head coach at the helm.

“We’re going to have somebody by the spring,” he said. “We’re going to have spring training. Whether we have to wait on baseball’s season to end or not, we will have a spring training at Vidalia High School.”