July 17, 2009
Justin Putnam realized a dream Monday.
Today, the Lowndes County School Board is expected to make it official.
Putnam accepted an offer Monday to become the new girls track and field coach at New Hope High School.
Jerry Byrd, the older brother of former New Hope High boys basketball coach Robert Byrd, said Thursday he has accepted the job to become the school''s new boys soccer coach.
The Lowndes County School Board is expected to meet today to make those hirings official.
The openings came about after Jamie Perkins, who was at New Hope High for four years, announced earlier this month that he was leaving the school to take a job at Oxford High.
Putnam served this past season as an assistant coach to Perkins.
"It always has been a dream of mine to be a head track coach," said Putnam, 26. "I wanted to move into the position to add to what coach Perkins has done to the program and to take it to the next level."
Putnam is a social studies teacher at New Hope High. He is entering his third year at the school.
The 2004 graduate of Mississippi State served as a paraprofessional for Caledonia High track coach James Reed in 2003-04. He said he won''t allow the lack of track and field facilities at New Hope High to prevent him from helping his student-athletes or from accomplishing his goals.
"Instilling the proper discipline and work ethic will be a challenge on some levels because track is a different kind of sport than most student-athletes are used to dealing with," Putnam said. "It is a very individual-based sport. The facilities in Lowndes County and at New Hope High School are very limited in the track and field area, but our athletes still are top-notch. Despite the lack of facilities, they are some of the best in the area."
Putnam was a pole vaulter and competed for five years in track and field at Caledonia High. He said he realized as a senior in high school that he wanted to become a head coach.
Putnam said Reed and Larry Wright, his track and field coach at Caledonia High and the brother of current New Hope High Principal Lynn Wright, inspired him to follow his passions and get involved as a coach.
Jerry Byrd opted not to comment until his hiring was official.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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