Area high schools to feature at least 16 new varsity coaches in new school year

Mike Lenox was immediately greeted by the need to fill a handful of open varsity head coach positions upon his transition to Stonewall Jackson High School’s athletic director a little over a month ago.

As the 2017-18 school year approaches, Stonewall’s four varsity coaching vacancies have made the school’s first-year athletic director one of busiest in the local area this summer when it comes to hiring new personnel.

“It’s been definitely a learning experience in it’s own but it’s exciting at the same time. I kind of have a say in continuing these programs,” Lenox, who spent six years teaching and coaching at Stonewall before being named Todd Fannin’s successor last month, said on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s definitely a learning experience of being on the other side of it now, just seeing what the administration here wants to look for and try to find and instill into the programs and kind of pick up where they left off.”

Stonewall joins Warren County High School as the leaders among the six local public high schools in coaching turnover this summer, although Warren County athletic director Ed Dike said Tuesday a couple more varsity changes could possibly be on the horizon for the Wildcats. As it stood Tuesday, both Stonewall and Warren County will feature five new varsity head coaches in 2017-18.

Central, Strasburg and Skyline each saw two varsity head coach positions open up at the end of the last school year, while Sherando continued its run of staff consistency and will retain its entire varsity coaching staff, according to school activities coordinator Jason Barbe.

In all, the six local public high schools will feature at least 16 new varsity head coaches – including nine in Shenandoah County and seven in Warren County – for the upcoming school year, one shy of last year’s total.

Lenox said Tuesday that Stonewall Jackson, which hired Pete Lampman as its new football coach back in March, was still searching for varsity head coaches for the girls and boys soccer programs, boys basketball and baseball, the latter two of which were roles previously filled by Lenox.

Lenox said he hoped to be able to name a new boys basketball coach prior the start of school in Shenandoah County on Aug. 7 before shifting focus to the spring sports vacancies.

Warren County had similar holes to fill, needs that began to be addressed when Brian Bush was announced as the school’s new head football coach in May.

Dike has since filled three other coaching vacancies through in-house maneuvers, as John Kelly switched from girls to boys basketball and assistant coaches Thomas Hodge and Erly Moya were promoted to head coaching duties in boys and girls soccer, respectively.

The Wildcats’ only remaining coaching hole on Tuesday was girls basketball, and Dike said school officials have completed the interview process but added that the final decision is still “up in the air.”

“We’ve interviewed some people, we’re just trying to figure out which way we wanna go and who we can offer the position to,” he said.

Dike, who stressed the importance of developing a winning culture within Warren County’s athletic program following Bush’s hire two months ago, said Tuesday he’s “pretty excited” about the recent coaching appointments.

“I think that’s been the theme all along,” Dike said, “that we wanna try to get some people in here to generate more excitement, get a little energy through the athletic department and get everybody heading in the right direction.”

Central, which saw an influx of six new varsity coaches last school year, had coaching spots open up in the wrestling and golf programs this summer. Athletic director Kenny Rinker said Kyle Wilson was hired to replace Michael Sanders as the school’s wrestling coach, while Brit Scott will replace longtime golf coach Jeff Walters.

Strasburg, which also had an abnormally high number of coaching vacancies in 2016, needs to fill openings in boys basketball and girls soccer this year after the departures of Hamilton Doyle and Katherine Klus, respectively.

Strasburg athletic director Matt Hiserman said Tuesday that Doyle, who was hired as Hiserman’s replacement last year, has returned to New Mexico, while Klus – the Rams’ girls soccer coach for six seasons – resigned in order to place more of her attention on her role with the Virginia Governor’s School Program.

“We haven’t really looked at (filling the coaching vacancies) much because we were waiting on the principal turnover and all that kind of stuff,” Hiserman said.

Skyline athletic director Bill Cupp said the school has hired a new competition cheer coach in Lauren Vice and is still searching for a replacement for baseball coach Jay Barnes, who stepped down at the end of this past school year after four years leading the Hawks.