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Officials hope to start program

One item on the drawing board for new Unicoi County Director of Schools John English is the formation of a soccer program at Unicoi County High School for the 2015-2016 school year.
“We want to get soccer going at the high school,” English said. “It is long overdue. We’ve had kids that have been asking about that for years. That’s something I’ve already been working with coach (Smith) and Dr. (Chris) Bogart to get that lined up and ready to go in the fall. There’s still some things to iron out … a coach, fundraising, uniforms, scheduling, but our goal is to have it ready to go in the fall.”
Plans moving forward are also setting up where the teams would play during the year, English added, but the goal stays the same. Throughout the TSSAA athletic calendar, girls begin soccer in the fall while the guys play in the spring.
“We’ve got some really talented soccer kids,” he also said. “Independently they’d go into tournaments and have tremendous success, so we’re excited for what they could do representing our school.”
Addressing athletic needs is nothing new to English, who resigned as the head boys’ basketball coach at UCHS.
“It’s something I’ve struggled with a little bit,” English said. “Basketball has always been part of my life. I went straight from playing in 1988, became an assistant, head coach … 27 years of playing and being a coach. It won’t be easy to sit in the stands, but I’m excited about watching those kids to see what they’ll do.”
During the years as a mainstay in county basketball, English sees similar traits between where his career had him to where he’s going now.
“I think there is a very big correlation between what I’m about to do in my career versus what I’ve been doing,” English said. “The way I always looked at the program was this, my job was to maximize the abilities of people around me. In that case, it was basketball. My job was to get the most of them on the basketball court.
“As director of schools, it isn’t much different. My job is to maximize our teachers, principals and our students. It is obviously a different avenue with a basketball involved but it is the same principles. I always thought my job in basketball was to get the best out of people and I feel my goal in this job is to get the best out of people.”
The school system’s athletic council is scheduled to meet this week to address coaching vacancies within each school.
“Fall sports are right around the corner,” English said. “We’re going to meet because those are issues we need to address. There are some positions that need to be filled.”
UCHS will be without one mainstay during the fall after Gary Howard resigned from his post as the school’s cross country coach this season. The program was able to send an athlete to the state meet the past three seasons. English also mentioned that other programs at the high school and middle school will be addressed to make things official for head coach and assistant coach positions.