Vidalia new coaching field down to 22

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 24, 2014

VIDALIA — With the field narrowed to 22 candidates, Concordia Parish School Board Superintendent Paul Nelson said the next phase of finding a football coach for Vidalia High School has begun.

The deadline for applications was last Friday, and Nelson said of the 34 people who sent letters and resumes, 22 filled out applications. The school board sent out a questionnaire to those 22 that was due back at 4 p.m. Thursday to hopefully help narrow the field more, Nelson said.

“We have applicants from Florida, Oklahoa, Texas and Louisiana and Mississippi, of course,” Nelson said. “We had a handful of local applicants from the Miss-Lou, but the vast majority of the folks are from away.”

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In addition, Nelson said some have experience in Division II and III, some have coaching at the high school level for a number of years and some are new to coaching.

“It’s a pretty diverse group,” he said. “It’s really an exciting opportunity to find the right person.”

Vidalia High School principal Rick Brown is putting together a committee to oversee the interviewing process, Nelson said, and he hopes to hire someone by mid to late February.

“I don’t have a timetable, so to speak, but we would certainly like to have someone named by then,” Nelson said. “Hopefully that person would be able to be here sometime in April for spring training, then to lay out summer workouts.”

In the past, the school has advertised a teaching position connected to a coaching opening, but Nelson said this position doesn’t have a specific teaching slot lined up with it. Being certified in secondary education is a requirement.

“All of our coaches are teachers,” Nelson said. “I’d guess two-thirds of the applicants are (physical education) certified.”

Finding someone who plans to be in the Miss-Lou for a while is one of the main things the board is looking for in a potential hire, Nelson said.

“We don’t think it’s to anyone’s benefit to have a revolving door setup,” Nelson said. “Of course, we’re looking for someone who has the right attitude to rebuild the program and bring energy to it.”

A new coach would also have to recruit athletes within the school who may not be playing football, Nelson said, as well as keep students from transferring to other area schools.

Despite the desire for a coach who will stick around awhile, Nelson said that doesn’t necessarily mean a local candidate would have the edge over someone from farther away.

“One of the questions on our questionnaire is, what is drawing you to the Miss-Lou?” Nelson said. “We hope it’s more than working a coaching job. We’re looking for someone that has some sort of attraction to the area, like friends or family who are already here or close by. If someone doesn’t know anyone for 200 miles, you’d have to ask if they’ll be here a long time.”

Plans are to begin conducting interviews late next week into early February, Nelson said.

“We’re really trying to take this process seriously,” Nelson said. “There’s a lot of time, effort and thought to finding the right guy, and it’s important that we do that.”