By LARRY VAUGHT
10:12 AM EST, January 10, 2013
Danville principal Aaron Etherington says he is working to finalize who will be on a screening committee to help select the school’s next football coach.
Sam Harp resigned last month to take a job in Lebanon, Tenn., after leading the Admirals to seven state titles and 276 wins in his 25 years at the school.
“The position was posted last week, and will be posted for 30 days. I will be working with the screening committee to develop a specific profile for our next coach,” Etherington said. “Once we develop the profile, I will submit all of the applications to the committee. The committee and I will identify applicants to be interviewed, and conduct those interviews.
“Basically, the role of the committee will be to help me identify some of the top candidates to serve as our next coach. Once I receive the committee’s input, we will look to fill the position with the best candidate that matches our needs both at the school and program levels.
“It is very important for the committee to reflect the various stakeholder groups involved within our program. This will include parents and school-community members. There are a number of people who have much invested in the football program, and it is really important to get that input.”
Danville superintendent Carmen Coleman said she knows how important picking the right coach will be.
“A strong athletics program is critical for our district, for our community, and most importantly, for our kids. Everyone loves being part of a winning team, and the benefits kids get from being part of a team are some of the most important for success in life,” Coleman said. “Very often, it’s on the sports field where kids learn to persevere, get along, adapt, analyze and lead.
“The importance of the role being part of a team plays for kids just can’t be overemphasized. And it goes without saying that Danville is synonymous with football. A strong program is a must.
“Aaron is working now to put together a committee comprised of parents as well as others who have been — and continue to be — tremendous supporters of Danville football as well as Danville schools. This committee will play a crucial role in the selection of the next coach.”
Etherington says there is no single criteria he’s looking for in a new coach.
“We are looking for the very best football coach to continue the strong tradition that has been established here. We want someone that will embrace our high expectations for athletics and academics,” he said.
“Although this is ultimately the high school’s decision to make, Aaron and I have worked closely together to create a process that will enable us to find the very best coach for our program,” Coleman said. “It’s fantastic that we have such strong support for Admiral football in our community, and we want to make sure this spirit is reflected in the search process.”
Etherington says he expects “interest from within the program” for the coaching position.
“We have top-notch people in our program, or we would not have been so successful over the years. We are going to maintain our focus on hiring the very best whether that candidate is from within or not,” he said. “I think it is important to consider all applicants for the position.
“The position has drawn a great deal of attention from across the state. We have also had interest from candidates outside the state. One of the great benefits of being Danville and having our tradition is that we are going to draw high-quality applicants.”
Coleman says she has been contacted both directly and indirectly by various coaches since Harp decided to leave Danville.
“I love talking with anyone who will listen about Danville — our schools, our community and our kids. So it’s been really fun to talk with potential candidates about why I think this is the best place in the world to be,” she said.
“One of the things I admire so much about coach Harp is that he is about what’s best for kids, period. Even in the relatively short time I’ve been in Danville, I’ve seen him make decisions that might cost a win, but in the long run were best for kids.
“I want someone who is about kids being successful in every aspect, on the field, in the classroom and in the future. I want someone who will be 100 percent invested in our kids and in our community. I want a great role model and leader — someone who inspires everyone around to stand a taller.
“One of the things I so strongly believe is that when you work with kids each day, one of the most important things you can do is to help them realize that they can accomplish things they might’ve otherwise not even considered. I want someone who inspires, and helps kids to think big.”
Etherington expects interviews to begin as soon as the 30-day posting period ends. The job was posted Jan. 2.
“We realize how critical it is to have a coach for the weightlifting program and spring football,” he said.
One potential obstacle for Danville is finding a position for a new coach. Harp was a half-time athletics director and football coach, so he did not leave a vacant teaching position behind, and it’s too early for Danville to tell what teaching positions might be available next school year.
“Right now, our priority is to find the very best coach for Danville. Once we find that person, we’ll have to work on putting the other puzzle pieces in place. I don’t anticipate any obstacles,” Coleman said.
“Everyone is sad to see Sam go. The marquee at Chills says it all — ‘Good luck, Coach Harp. We will miss you.’ We certainly will, and Sam leaves giant shoes to fill. However, I’ve felt tremendous support from the community as we move forward and look to find the next Admiral coach. There is certainly not a lack of enthusiasm in Danville for football.”
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