Wilkerson resigns at St. Al

Published 12:02 pm Thursday, June 24, 2010

Almost from the time he arrived and began having success at St. Aloysius, Clint Wilkerson was rumored to have one foot out the door.

On Wednesday, after six seasons and two state championships, he finally stepped through with both feet. Wilkerson turned in his letter of resignation, ending one of the most successful coaching runs in school history.

“I feel like at this point in my career it’s time to move on. I’ve met all the goals I set when I came here. It’s a decision that’s right for me and my family,” Wilkerson said. “It had nothing to do with the team coming back. It was a situation where I saw a group through. In coaching, you have to be able to read the writing on the wall as far as what you want to do, and I felt like I had done everything I could here.”

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Wilkerson said he informed St. Al athletic director Jim Taylor of his intention to resign about a week after the Flashes won their second consecutive Class 1A championship. Family obligations kept him from making it official for another three weeks, though. Wilkerson’s wife, Macy, gave birth to the couple’s second child, Kathleen, on June 9.

“People have been calling me, texting me. It’s been really, really crazy. It wasn’t like I was trying to hold off. I was just really busy with my family,” Wilkerson said.

St. Al principal Michele Townsend said there was no timetable for finding Wilkerson’s replacement, other than having someone in place by the time school starts in early August. The job was posted on the Mississippi High School Activities Association web site Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m hoping for another phenomenal baseball coach. It’s going to be some big shoes to fill there,” Townsend said. “I will miss Clint Wilkerson. He’s a good guy and he does have a huge heart. Not everybody had a chance to see that.”

Wilkerson leaves St. Al with an impressive resumé that he’s still shopping around.

He has been in contact with several junior and four-year colleges about assistant coach openings, and also interviewed for the vacant Vicksburg High head coaching job on Tuesday.

Wilkerson said Wednesday that, although he interviewed, he did not consider himself a leading candidate for the VHS job. Wilkerson has the master’s degree required for the job and a strong track record on the field, but said several things about the position didn’t fit what he was looking for.

“I really wasn’t interested in the Vicksburg job. I had some talks with them, but it wasn’t a situation that was going to be beneficial for me or my family. Vicksburg wasn’t going to be a good fit for me,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson, who was offered and turned down the head coaching position at Class 4A New Hope last summer, added that he believes his days of coaching high school baseball are over.

“I’m not going to be back in high school next year. It’s going to be a college situation. I may have to take a volunteer situation at a D-I, but it’s going to be in college,” he said. “The college game, the speed of the game, is what I want to do right now.”

Wherever he ends up, Wilkerson leaves a legacy of success in his wake at St. Al.

The 31-year-old took over a talented group of young players — two seventh-graders and an eighth-grader were regular starters during his first season — and molded them into champions.

He didn’t have a losing season and went 125-50 overall. In 2009 he led St. Al to its first state championship in 33 years. For an encore, he took a team that suffered major injuries to key starters Ryno Martin-Nez and Justin Rushing; played a brutal non-division schedule; and twice survived playoff elimination games to a second consecutive Class 1A title.

Wilkerson credited not only his players, but also their parents and St. Al’s administration and supporters for creating an atmosphere conducive to success.

“We operated a small school like a Division I program. You’re not going to get that at most places. I was able to accomplish things I probably would not have without them. They’re all to be commended for it,” Wilkerson said. “I hope I’m coaching for a lot of years. But I don’t know that I’m ever going to have the kind of support system that I’ve had at St. Al.”

Wilkerson earned his fourth Vicksburg Post Coach of the Year award in 2010 — he also won in 2005, 2007 and 2009 — as well as larger honors. He was named the Mississippi Association of Coaches Class 1A Coach of the Year for the second straight time, and the American Baseball Coaches Association Region 6 High School Coach of the Year.

“St. Al will always have a special place in my heart. All great things come to an end and it’s time for someone else to keep it going,” Wilkerson said. “It’s been a great chapter in my life, and it’s time to start on a new one now.”