Four to interview for Warren Central job

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 28, 2001

[06/28/01] Four coaches from around the state were set to interview Thursday for the vacant coaching job at Warren Central.

Randy Broome, an assistant for four years to Sam Temple and the Vikings; Greg Patterson, head coach at Independence; Derek Topic, an assistant at Madison Central, and Jim Nightingale, an assistant at Pearl River Community College, are all vying for the job, which opened after Temple left for Clinton.

A search committee made up of parents, administrators and WC staff was to interview Thursday and a decision could be reached as early as Friday.

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Broome, 28, has been an assistant under Temple for four years and helped WC to its first state championship in school history.

A Baton Rouge, La., native, Broome assisted at Mississippi College before a one-year stint at Vicksburg High. He is coaching the Warren Central senior AAU team this summer.

“We have a good nucleus of players coming back,” Broome said. “I have a good idea of who can do what.”

Broome, who helped Temple turn WC from an average program to the fourth-ranked team in the country in the final USA Today poll, is the overwhelming players’ choice for the job.

Nightingale, 39, said he wants to get out of the junior college ranks for a more stable, high school atmosphere.

“I’m not looking for move up or down or sideways,” Nightingale said. “I want to find someplace I like and be there for the long haul.”

A 15-year veteran coach at PRCC, Nightingale has helped lead his teams to the playoffs in 10 of those years. Before going to Pearl River, Nightingale was an assistant at William Carey College in Hattiesburg, where he also played baseball.

At Gulf Coast Community College, Nightingale was a football all-American in 1980, but a broken hand midway through the 1981 season ended his football playing days. In 1982, he was an all-American as a center fielder and pitcher at Gulf Coast.

“The biggest thing is to get to a school with stability,” Nightingale said. “I’ve seen a lot come and go and I look for a place where I don’t have to drive up and down the highway to recruit, but up and down the hallways.”

Patterson, who will celebrate his 27th birthday on Friday, is a Mississippi State grad who took the Independence job four years ago straight out of college.

When he arrived, the school had no program to speak of. The field did not have an outfield fence or lights.

“One game I went out there and there were four cows on the field,” Patterson said with a chuckle.

In four years, Patterson not only got the fence built and lights put up, he went 92-49 and came within one game of the school’s first state championship last season. Independence lost to state power West Lauderdale for the Class 3A.

Patterson said his wife is enrolling in graduate school at University Medical Center, making WC a perfect fit.

“There’s no secret to coaching,” Patterson said. “If you have good players, there’s a chance to win. They have good players.”

Topic, 34, has been with Madison Central for the past two years after a five-year tenure with Jackson-St. Joseph.

When the Vicksburg High job opened two years ago, Topic applied for it but lost out to Jamie Creel.

“Sam and I had the same philosophy about coaching,” Topic said. “We have a desire to work hard and keep the winning tradition.”

Topic will interview this morning, then go to Memphis for a week with his Madison-based summer league team.

His team will be playing in the National Amateur Baseball Federation national tournament, where Topic led the Jackson 96ers to a pair of 18-under national titles in 1994 and 1996.

He has also coached second- and third-place teams in the national tournament.

Among the players he’s coached with the 96ers are Roy Oswalt, a pitcher for the Houston Astros, and more than a dozen players who signed to play Division I baseball.

Topic sees a lot of talent returning to Warren Central in 2002.

“All I would do is refine everything that has been taught to them and work with the younger kids,” Topic said.