Wilkerson stays at St. Al

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

Clint Wilkerson spent five days weighing the first job offer from New Hope.

After turning it down, he spent another day weighing a counteroffer.

After much deliberation, he turned it down, too.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Wilkerson, who coached St. Al to the 2009 Class 1A championship, applied for, and was offered, the head coaching position at Class 4A powerhouse New Hope. He declined both an initial offer and a counteroffer, however, and will return to St. Al next season.

Wilkerson said the main sticking point was the lack of a teaching job for his wife, Macy, who is currently a teacher in the Madison County School District. The couple lives in Madison and has a 6-year-old son, Jack.

“They’re trying to put her in a district job, which would be driving around all day,” Wilkerson said. “I think they know they’re not going to have a job for her. They said they were going to have a job for her by the time school starts. But that’s a leap of faith. I need something in writing.”

Wilkerson was first offered the job last week. After weighing the pros and cons over the long holiday weekend, and talking with several coaching colleagues around the state, he called New Hope officials on Monday morning to tell them he was staying in Vicksburg. They called Wilkerson back a couple hours later, though, with a counteroffer — a slightly higher salary and a different job for his wife.

It still wasn’t enough to sway him.

“They just couldn’t come up with a good job for her. I thought about moving up there by myself for a while, but you can’t go without your family. Lots of coaches told me they’d do the same thing,” Wilkerson said. “There’ll be other jobs. Ones that are better for my family, and a better overall situation.”

The 30-year-old Wilkerson has taken St. Al to great heights in his five seasons there. He’s won more than 120 games and St. Al’s first state title since 1976.

Wilkerson said his ultimate career goal is to be a college coach, however, and moving on to a bigger program like New Hope would have been a key step in that process. New Hope reached the Class 4A semifinals this season, and has built a strong tradition as one of the top baseball programs in Mississippi.

“It was tough to turn down. The coach’s office at New Hope is bigger than the superintendent’s office,” Wilkerson said. “When you sit in baseball circles and talk about great jobs, this one comes up. They’ve won a lot of baseball games and have some of the best facilities in the United States.”

He applied for the New Hope job after longtime coach Stacy Hester was fired. New Hope assistant principal Matt Smith, a member of the school’s search committee, said that out of about 30 candidates who were interviewed Wilkerson emerged as the clear-cut choice.

“He was everything we were looking for. Young, energetic, and he’s had a ton of success,” Smith said. “In the interview process, out of 30 some-odd people he was the No. 1 choice out of everybody on the interview committee.”

Wilkerson didn’t rule out pursuing another job in the future. But with the status of the St. Al program, he also didn’t feel a need to jump at the first job that came along. Only three players graduated from this year’s team, and the Flashes are an early favorite to win another state title.

“I’d rather be patient and wait and see if the perfect situation comes along rather than just take a bigger job,” Wilkerson said, adding that he wasn’t worried about gaining a reputation as a coach who has one foot out the door. “I don’t care what they think. I’m a coach and every successful coach should have that. Maybe I do, but I’m dedicated to St. Aloysius.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com