Yocum takes reins of PCA program|[8/4/06]

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 4, 2006

Two weeks ago, Amanda Yocum was happily watching her two young children grow up as a stay-at-home mother.

Now, after a whirlwind of phone calls and interviews, she’s learning the names of some other youngsters.

Yocum was hired last week as Porters Chapel Academy’s new fast-pitch softball coach. She replaces Chris Etheridge, who resigned from the school in July.

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&#8220I was on vacation when Chris (Busby) called. I came back on Thursday, interviewed on Friday and got the job,” Yocum said. &#8220This is about day four for me, so it’s been quick. I think we’re getting it together, though.”

Yocum served as an assistant to longtime Warren Central coach Lucy Young from 1999-2003. Yocum stepped down then to care for her two young sons, Cameron and Luke. The two boys are about to start school now and when Busby, PCA’s athletic director, called to gauge her interest, Yocum jumped at the chance to get back into coaching.

&#8220I really wasn’t looking at doing it this year, but I got a call from (Busby) and it was a great opportunity,” she said. &#8220And I do love coaching, so given the chance, I jumped at it.”

Busby felt fortunate to get an experienced coach like Yocum on such short notice. Etheridge’s resignation came in mid-July, just a month before the start of school and at a time when most coaches have already signed contracts for the upcoming school year.

&#8220Getting somebody that’s played the game and has experience coaching like she does, you can’t ask for better than that,” Busby said. &#8220She’s going to take the program and get it strong again.”

PCA’s softball program is indeed in a rebuilding stage. Lauren Johnson, the Lady Eagles’ top player the last three seasons, graduated and several other starters transferred. PCA finished third in the Mississippi Private School Association’s state tournament in 2005, but Yocum had only a half-dozen players out for practice on Thursday morning.

She hopes to have a full team when school starts next week and 12 to 15 players by the first game against Franklin on Aug. 24.

&#8220This year’s going to be a rebuilding season for us,” Yocum said. &#8220We lost one senior and had a couple of transfers, so we’re working with a small amount of experience.”

The hire of Yocum leaves only one coaching vacancy at PCA. Busby said the school has yet to hire a boys’ basketball coach, but has filled the girls’ basketball and soccer coaching jobs.

Chad Hoeppel, who last coached at Campus Prep, was hired as the new soccer coach. Campus Prep, located in Vicksburg, closed its high school at the end of the 2005-06 school year.

E.J. Creel, who starred at PCA when she was known as E.J. Willis, will return for a second season as girls’ basketball coach. Creel took over the program in 2005-06 while Etheridge recuperated from injuries sustained in a car wreck.

Creel led the Lady Eagles to a 9-16 record and the MPSA Class A North Central State tournament, and Busby said he was happy to have her aboard.

&#8220Last year we got a little taste of her abilities and now we get the whole effort of what she can do,” Busby said.