Three county coaches won’t return

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Much like the population of Chilton County teachers in general, the county’s coaching ranks will look much different when the new school year begins.

Also like those teachers, at least part of the changes is due to state mandated cuts.

At least three coaches will not be back in their positions next year: Jemison’s Brad Abbott, Verbena’s Jonathan Shedd and Isabella’s Clay Shearer.

Shedd—who coached boys basketball, girls basketball, track and field, and cross country—saw his teaching unit cut.

He has been hired at Pickens County and will coach basketball and track but said leaving a school after three years is difficult.

“It’s hard when you leave a school and a group of kids like at Verbena,” Shedd said.

Shedd said he knew in April that his unit, in collaborative special education, would be cut but waited until after the track team competed in its sectional meet to break the news so the players wouldn’t be distracted.

“They were very upset at first,” he said. “I said, ‘It’s not any of our fault; there’s nothing we can do about it.’”

Shedd was especially effective with the school’s boys basketball team, helping it break a losing streak that stretched over several seasons. He said he told the players his exit wouldn’t mean the end of their success because they were “the ones that won the games.”

VHS Principal Tommy Headley said Mark Cleckler would coach the boys basketball next season but had yet to decide on a girl’s coach.

Shedd’s departure also brings into question the survival of track and cross country at the school because he began those programs.

“We still want to maintain those programs, but I’m not sure who will be coaching,” Headley said.

Shearer, who coached Isabella baseball, said he was told school Principal Ricky Porter simply wanted to go in a different direction with the program, a sentiment Porter also shared with The Clanton Advertiser.

“We just made a change,” Porter said. “It wasn’t due to cutbacks or anything like that. We still have that teaching position.”

Shearer taught elementary physical education and high school health for two years and said he is searching for employment elsewhere.

“There’s not a whole lot,” he said. “It’s really a difficult time to try to find a job.”

Porter said he hopes to present a recommendation for the coaching position to the Board of Education by its next meeting, on June 21.

Jemison Principal Alan Thompson couldn’t be reached for comment about searching for a replacement for Abbott, the school’s football coach for the past seven seasons.

Abbott said he will continue to teach history at the school.

Thorsby Principal Russ Bryan said some varsity coaches received non-renewal notices at the end of the past school year.

He declined to discuss specific staff members because of the ongoing hiring process but said “pink slips” are common for teachers who, for example, were emergency hires or who are still completing their degree requirements.

Bryan also said there is the possibility that any of the school’s coaches who received pink slips could be rehired for the same position.

Chilton County Principal Greg DeJarnett and Maplesville Athletic Director Brent Hubbert both said their schools lost no teaching units that would affect varsity head coaches.