Last year, the three Shenandoah County schools had many varsity head coaching positions to fill. This summer things couldn’t be more different.
Central, Stonewall Jackson, and Strasburg will have a combined two new varsity coaches this season, a drastic change from the last few years when there was a lot of turnover.
Strasburg Athletic Director Matt Hiserman said he thinks it’s mostly just a coincidence that three Shenandoah County schools were able to keep most of their coaches, but he said the fact that they had so much turnover the last few years played a role in keeping everyone this year.
“I think all three of us had some had coaching changes in the last couple years,” Hiserman said. “And so as you make those changes, as newer people come in, you hope they stay for more than one or two years. So as we’ve all had some changes, we’ve all gotten people that decided to stay in those positions, which you hope you get head coaches that stay for a while. I think we were lucky enough that when we filled those positions we got people that want to stay here and be here and have done a good job.”
Stonewall Jackson and Strasburg return all of their head varsity coaches for all three seasons, while Central will have a new golf coach and a new boys tennis coach.
Mike Lenox is starting his second year as athletic director at Stonewall Jackson and said it’s been really nice to have to find head varsity coaches this summer.
“For me personally, it’s totally different from last year,” Lenox said. “Last year we had a brand new boys basketball coach and a brand new football coach and then we had a brand new coach in almost every sport other than track in the spring. I think things turned out great last year, honestly. But I think things are going to be a little bit more cohesive and coherent this year. I’m looking forward to them building upon what they did last year.”
Central has already filled its golf coach vacancy with Barry Arey to replace Brit Scott. Arey was the boys tennis coach this past spring but has stepped down from that position.
“Barry’s a former administrator in Shenandoah County Public Schools,” Central Athletic Director Justin Broughman said. “Last year he got into coaching with boys tennis in the spring and did pretty well with them, with a smaller group, and our golf program has been traditionally been kind of small. We’re looking forward to having him take that over and lead that into the year.”
Broughman, who just officially started as athletic director on July 1, said that they are searching for a boys tennis coach. He said that Carrie Hamilton will be the competition cheerleading coach this year. He said they did not have a competition cheer team last year.
Not only do the three Shenandoah County schools not have much turnover with head varsity coaches, but there’s not much with assistant coaches or at the junior varsity level either.
Hiserman said that Strasburg will be returning all of its junior varsity and varsity assistant and head coaches for all of its fall and winter sports. He said they have a couple assistant jobs open for the spring sports, but not many. Broughman said Central has already filled a couple assistant coach positions and has two more to fill in the winter and spring sports seasons combined. Lenox said that Stonewall Jackson only has a few assistant coach positions to fill as well.
All three athletic directors said that having continuity with the coaches is great for the athletes. It helps the athletes to know what to expect going in from the coaches and have that familiarity with the coaches.
“It’s tremendous, not just within the program those kids are in, but from program to program because you get head coaches that are all familiar with each other,” Hiserman said. “Now everybody coming back when you have a coaches meeting you can spend more time with how this program goes together with that program to help make it better, instead of trying to get a program to try to start back up from scratch and how they’re going to run that program itself.”
Lenox said he believes the working environment at Stonewall Jackson helped to keep the coaches around.
“I think that it’s a really good place to work here now with (Stonewall Jackson principal) Mr. (Mike) Dorman and (Stonewall Jackson assistant principal) Scott (Schlentner) and even myself,” Lenox said. “I think we all get along really well. We all have the same vision and plan and I think the way we treat people here I think they feel comfortable working with us. I think we were lucky enough to find really good people to take over those jobs and committed people. And people who want to see Stonewall get back to where they were. And I think we’re just starting to grow into more of a familyish type group here. And that we have coaches that want to help the other coaches in season and out of season.”
Broughman said he feels very lucky to be taking over an athletic program that has such a good group of coaches. Central has quite a few coaches who have been there for more than 10 years, and Broughman said he couldn’t be happier with the coaches at the school.
“It takes a special kind of person to be a coach,” he said. “I think we have some of the best that there are. And many of our programs if not most of our programs have had pretty good success here in the last few years, and I think that speaks to the quality of people that we’ve had in those positions. Almost every single (team) advanced to regional play if not state play. It speaks to the quality of the people that are there and who knows their sport well and just enjoy being around young people. We’ve got some fine folks in our programs.”