July 9, 2009
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
Former New Hope High School baseball player Lee Boyd is expected to be named the school''s new baseball coach.
Boyd, who spent five years as a player in the New Hope High baseball program, said Wednesday he had accepted a job offer to be the Trojans'' new coach. He declined to comment further pending the approval Friday of his hiring by the Lowndes County School Board.
Boyd worked this past season as an assistant coach for Brian Jones at Neshoba Central High School, a Class 4A-District 4 rival of New Hope High''s.
Jones said Wednesday he had talked with Boyd, who he called a "good friend" and said he is a "great guy" who should do well at New Hope High.
"The kids really took to him here because he has a good personality," Jones said. "I wish him all of the luck in the world. I hope he wins every game except for the ones against Neshoba Central. I will be rooting for him except when he is across the diamond."
Jones said some people might doubt the hiring of Boyd, 26, because of his age and lack of head coaching experience. But he said Boyd is knowledgeable in all facets of the game and will have high expectations for his players.
"He will be disciplined and he will be organized and structured and things like that," Jones said.
Immanuel Christian Principal and Athletic Director Bob Williford saw those talents in Boyd in 2006 when Boyd was the school''s baseball coach. He said his playing experience at New Hope High, East Mississippi Community College, and at the University of West Alabama should help him.
"He''s a fine, Christian young man," Williford said. "He was a good coach for us, and I am tickled to death to see him get the New Hope job.
"He got the job here right out of college with a master''s degree, and he''s had a lot of experience (as a player). He might be a young man, but he is a mature young man."
Jones said off-the-field issues, like relationships with people and friends, will be the biggest transitions Boyd will have to make as the head coach at New Hope High.
"The easiest part of what he is going to do with it is the baseball part, calling pitches, calling for a hit and run, or steals," Jones said. "It seems like as a head coach you don''t make nearly as many people happy. It is just difficult."
The New Hope High administration moved quickly after St. Aloysius High baseball coach Clint Wilkerson on Tuesday officially declined a job offer to be the new head baseball coach at New Hope High.
Wilkerson said Monday morning he declined the position but had second thoughts and took another day to reconsider the offer.
But Wilkerson decided that while the job offer was appealing, the move wasn''t right for his family.
Boyd likely will replace veteran Stacy Hester, who won 551 games and three state titles in 18 years as the school''s coach.
Lowndes County School District Superintendent Mike Halford recommended last month that Hester, an at-will employee, not be retained as the New Hope High baseball coach. The Lowndes County School Board then voted 5-0 not to retain Hester.
Hester''s final day as the school''s coach was June 30.
At-will employees can be non-renewed at any time and not be given a reason for the decision.
"Congratulations to him," said Hester, who coached Boyd as a player and coached against him. "Lee was a very good player and he is a quality young person. He obviously knows the game because he played college ball. I am proud for him. I wish him the very best. I have a lot of respect for Lee, and I know he is going to do a fine job."
Boyd played infield and was a pitcher as a senior at New Hope High in 2001. The 6-foot right-hander went on to play baseball at EMCC, where he posted a 5-17 career record. As a freshman in 2002, he went 3-10, tied for the team lead in victories, had the most starts on the team, and pitched four complete games.
Boyd finished his college career at West Alabama, where he still ranks second all-time in program history with a .846 winning percentage (11-2 record).
He earned second-team All-Gulf South Conference honors in 2004 after going 6-1 with a 5.43 ERA and two saves in 23 games.
Boyd capped his college career in 2005 with a 5-1 record and a 3.51 ERA in 21 games as a senior. He also earned academic All-GSC honors that year.
Boyd also served as an assistant coach to Jeff Cook at Columbus High before moving on to be an assistant coach at Neshoba Central.
"I think Lee will do a great job ay New Hope," Cook said. "He really helped us out at Columbus, and I look forward to competing against him."
Caledonia High baseball coach Sam Adams, whose team faced Neshoba Central in Class 4A-District 4 play, agreed.
"I think he is a classy guy and I think he will do fine," Adams said. "He played baseball at West Alabama, which I know is a good program, and he learned a lot of baseball over there."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.