Head embraces 5A soccer challenges|[7/7/06]

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 7, 2006

New Vikings boys coach joins long list of new hires at WC.

Greg Head’s future was looking uncertain. After more than 25 years teaching and coaching at All Saints Episcopal School, he learned the school was closing and he’d soon be out of a job.

There’s an old saying, though, about one door closing and another opening. For Head, the open door was a short drive across town.

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Head was hired as Warren Central’s new boys soccer coach last week. He replaces Jay Harrison, who left to take over Madison Central’s program in June – coincidentally, just two weeks after that, All Saints announced it was closing.

&#8220I hate that coach Harrison is leaving. I have a lot of respect for him because he coached my daughter for a few years. But it’s a great opportunity to fall into,” said Head, whose daughters Holly and Brandi grew up playing soccer in Vicksburg.

Head coached boys soccer at All Saints, as well as a number of recreational and select teams. He admitted, however, that jumping to a Class 5A public high school with a long tradition of winning will be a challenge.

&#8220The competition is going to be a lot different and the type of players are going to be a lot different,” Head said. &#8220At All Saints, we had some less-skilled players and the rec teams were more skilled. At Warren Central, I know I can start somewhere in the middle.

&#8220The fact that I’ll have more talent to work with, it might be easier.”

The move to Warren Central also splits Head’s loyalties. His oldest daughter, Brandi, helped archrival Vicksburg to Class 5A state championships in 2001 and 2002. Holly is currently a star for the Missy Gators and will be entering her senior year at VHS.

Greg Head said it won’t be easy to root for both sides when WC and VHS play each other. He also added that, with only one year of school left, Holly Head won’t transfer to Warren Central.

&#8220It’s going to be tough. I’m going to be pulling for Warren Central and for my daughter. But she understands the situation,” Greg Head said.

The soccer job was the highest-profile vacancy at WC, but not the only one Vicksburg Warren athletic director Lum Wright Jr. was scrambling to fill this summer.

A number of coaches left for other jobs or moved to different positions within the school, creating a total of 10 job openings. All were filled at last week’s school board meeting.

&#8220I think we were very fortunate that we had some good candidates. It worked out well for us,” Wright said. &#8220We had to look at teaching spots and what they needed, and match them up with the coaching positions. It was like working a puzzle.”

The new coaches at WC include:.

Fast-pitch softball coaches Dana McGivney and Faith Robinson. McGivney, previously an assistant at Pearl, will serve as an assistant coach for slow-pitch and the head coach for fast-pitch. Robinson, who last worked for the Jackson Public Schools, will be an assistant for fast-pitch.

Josh Morgan and Thad Bridges, a pair of former Warren Central football standouts, are returning to the program as assistant coaches. Bridges helped WC to the 1994 Class 5A state title, while Morgan was an All-SEC safety at Mississippi State after a stellar career at WC that wrapped up in 1997.

Morgan and Bridges will replace Brian Oakes and B.J. Smithhart, two more former Vikings who joined the coaching ranks after their playing careers ended. Both of those coaches went to Stone County.

&#8220We just found out that raising our own helps,” Wright said. &#8220It also hurts raising your own, because they go off somewhere.”

Tipp Nutt and Justin Moss were also added to the football staff. Moss comes to WC from Olive Branch and will coach at Warren Central Junior High. Nutt has been a volunteer baseball coach at WC since 2004, and will now coach ninth-grade football and baseball.

Former Philadelphia High assistant John Hardy also will join the Vikings’ baseball staff, replacing departed assistant Jeff Wood. Wood left WC to become the head baseball coach at Alcorn Central.

Matt Lum will pull double duty as an assistant coach for boys basketball and the head coach for girls track.