Fannin resigns as Stonewall AD, Lenox named his replacement
QUICKSBURG – Todd Fannin, Stonewall Jackson High School’s athletic director for the past 12 years, has seen his 25-year tenure at the school come to a close.
Fannin has resigned from his post at Stonewall to join the Winchester Public Schools system as an assistant principal at Garland Quarles Elementary School, he confirmed in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. Mike Lenox, Stonewall’s head varsity baseball and boys basketball coach, has been named Fannin’s replacement.
Both moves are still awaiting approval from the Shenandoah County School Board, though both Fannin and Lenox were already making their respective transitions into their new roles on Wednesday.
For Fannin, his move was made as a way for him to experience “different levels and different facets of education.”
“It’s more a matter of just career advancement,” he said. “I mean there’s nothing wrong at SJ. I didn’t have any problems there, dislikes there or anything of that nature. It’s literally just stepping up. I had applied for some positions in Shenandoah County that didn’t work out. Went for some interviews in Winchester and there was some goods to it that I couldn’t pass up. The situation, the time, all that is just right.”
Fannin’s move to Garland Quarles Elementary School will mark the 48-year-old’s first change of scenery since he took a job in Shenandoah County right after graduating from Marshall University. He spent 13 years as a teacher and a coach at Stonewall Jackson before being named the school’s athletic director in 2005.
During his first professional transition from teacher to AD 12 years ago, Fannin said he felt he had exhausted everything he needed to learn in the classroom and was ready for the next step. He had a similar sense as his role as athletic director neared that same timeframe, he said.
“I’m 48. If I’m gonna make a move, now is one of the last few times I can really do that and still have that 10- to 13-year window to exhaust something else,” said Fannin, who added that he was “coached” for the career move by Stonewall principal Mike Dorman over the years. “That was the reason behind it, the plan, and the opportunity came up and Winchester City Public Schools is a great system and I’m just excited to be a part of it and see what the new situation brings. Going from high school athletic director to elementary school assistant principal, it’s exciting.”
Fannin added that he enjoyed the opportunity to help provide Stonewall Jackson’s student-athletes – who have regularly made up about half of the school’s student population, he said – with the chance to experience the important life lessons instilled by high school athletics that he feels were an integral part of his own personal development.
“Not every parent always agreed with me. Not every kid understood every decision I made. But I can look back over my 12 years and know that every decision I made was in the best interest of the future of those kids,” Fannin said. “So no regrets, no disappointments other than a couple championship games lost, but as far as looking back, I wouldn’t do anything different. It was a great experience.”
Lenox, who coached Stonewall’s varsity baseball team for the last six seasons and the varsity boys basketball program for one year, said his shift off the field to an administrative role will allow him to work with more of the school’s student-athletes on a broader level.
“It’s kind of been my ultimate goal to kind of get to a leadership standpoint of just helping kids on a larger scale,” said Lenox, who will have multiple coaching vacancies to fill this summer, including the baseball and boys basketball positions he previously held. “As a coach you’re more into it, and I know a lot of kids were upset when I told them I’m not gonna be there anymore, but I told them that I’m gonna still be here, just in a different scope. So I mean, I just wanna be able to help kids more and make some more influential decisions to help them, help the programs that they’re in.”
Lenox, who led Stonewall’s baseball team to its first-ever state tournament appearance this past season, added that his application for the athletic director job and subsequent interview with Dorman happened quickly in the week leading up to last weekend’s Virginia High School League Group 1A baseball state tournament.
“I just kind of felt the time was right,” Lenox said. “I know some people probably think I’m crazy after what (the baseball team) just did but I just, personally … I think it was the right step for me to go to the next step and learn that whole different scale of skills and knowledge at that level.”
He said he waited until after Saturday’s game to inform his players that he had applied to be Fannin’s replacement.
“I didn’t wanna take away anything from them,” Lenox said. “But I felt at that time, and how much they’ve given me, they deserved a face-to-face about what my decision was gonna be and why.”
Stonewall’s appearance in the baseball state championship game was a proud sendoff for not only Lenox, but Fannin, who was an assistant football coach under Dick Krol during Stonewall’s string of success in the 1990s and took over as AD during the prime era of the Generals’ girls basketball program.
“It was really special for me as athletic director, of course you work all sporting events, it’s kind of nice to know the very last sporting event I ever was responsible for working was a state championship game,” Fannin said. “That was kind of a very special treat.”