E.A. Sports Today

New coaches

Three assistants in line for top county head coaching jobs at Alexandria, White Plains

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Three new but familiar faces will be calling the shots for some of Calhoun County’s most storied sports programs next year as two county schools have moved to replace well-established head coaches.

Will Ginn and Zac Welch are being elevated to head coach status at Alexandria, replacing two long-time veterans who are retiring. Tiffany Williams, meanwhile, will be the new softball coach at White Plains as Rachel Ford steps away from coaching to focus on her family.

All three are expected to be approved at Thursday’s meeting of the Calhoun County school board.

Ginn, 36, will become Alexandria’s next basketball coach – and only its third in the last 45 years – as he succeeds retiring Jason Johnson. Welch will formally become the Valley Cubs’ next baseball coach – and only their fourth in the same time period – after being the presumptive choice following coach Andy Shaw’s retirement announcement prior to the state playoffs.

Johnson succeeded Larry Ginn, Will’s father, and coached the Valley Cubs for 15 years. He also coached seven seasons at Cleburne County and four at Pleasant Valley. Shaw coached the baseball Cubs for 30 years. Together they have won more than 800 games at the school.

“I felt like I had the best job in Alabama, but thought it was time to get out of the way with these young guys and let them experience the things I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the last 15-20 years,” Johnson said. “I felt like it was time.”

The two retiring coaches – and former Alexandria football coach Frank Tucker – are heading to Haralson County (Ga.) to join coach Scott Peavey’s football staff. 

“I believe both programs are being left by two great ambassadors and it’s a bonus knowing that they’re both handing over the reins to people who had a hand in making both programs successful,” Alexandria principal Jason Deason said.

It will be Ginn’s second head coaching job; he spent a year as Ohatchee’s basketball coach in 2011 before returning to his alma mater. It will be the first varsity head coaching jobs for the other two.

“It’s really a dream job for me; that’s my home,” Ginn said. “I’m excited about it. I just hope I can do the job that the other man before me did.”

Welch has been on Shaw’s staff for more than 10 years. He was both Shaw and Deason’s choice for successor and judging from the reaction Welch has received from alums, he was a popular pick with them as well.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” Welch said Tuesday afternoon from the bus – driven by Johnson – taking the Cubs to their team banquet at the Barons’ game. “Coach Shaw has left some big shoes to fill. He’s done such an exceptional job of leading our program, really from the ground up.

“I remember when I was a young kid, my best friend’s dad was the head coach. Coach (Jimmy) Heathcock coached it until Coach Shaw took over and I’ve watched the program go pretty much from scratch to what it is today so I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done and I’m super excited to lead the program in the future. I’m excited to see what this first team will have.”

Ford said she had been thinking about stepping back “for a few years now” as she balanced the roles of coach and mom, and called the decision to finally do it a difficult one. She has directed one of the top programs in the county for 18 years, but she and husband Matt, the White Plains girls basketball coach, have three children – ages 11, almost 8 and 3 – and she wants to focus on being a mom.

“This year after praying and thinking really hard about it … I definitely thought it was time to make a change,” she said. “I’ve sought some advice from coaches I think a lot of and there’s been a few who have said they think their kids kind of resent them for not being more a part of their lives and I don’t want to have that regret one day.”

Williams, 25 played her high school softball at Pleasant Valley. She hung up the spikes after two junior college seasons and returned home to concentrate on her degree. She started her coaching career at her alma mater and just completed her second year at White Plains, where she helped with junior high basketball and softball.

Ford called her “a huge help to the program” in the years they worked together and was excited to see what the future held.

“Obviously, there are some nerves of anybody who is becoming a head coach for the first time, but I am really excited to take over this program,” Williams said. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about and praying about for a while and I am excited.

“Coach Ford is somebody I’ve always looked up to. She’s built that program at White Plains from the ground up and I’m just excited and honored to be the next person to keep that program going.”

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