July 8, 2009
Another day didn''t change things enough for Clint Wilkerson and his family.
The St. Aloysius High School baseball coach Monday morning declined a job offer to be the new head baseball coach at New Hope High School.
Administrators from New Hope High then spoke with Wilkerson later that day and asked him to give them more time to try to work out a better situation for him and his family.
Wilkerson listened to the revised job offer for him and his wife, who also is a teacher, and took the night to reconsider his decision.
But Wilkerson decided Tuesday that while the job offer to become New Hope High''s new baseball coach was appealing, the move wasn''t right for his family, so he again declined.
"It was the same situation. Nothing really changed," Wilkerson said Tuesday. "New Hope really tried hard, but we couldn''t get it right. There were too many uncertainties, and we needed more solid stuff."
Wilkerson led St. Aloysius to a 28-4 record and a Class 1A state title this season. He said his decision not to take the New Hope High job was based on the lack of teaching openings for his wife, who is a sixth- and seventh-grade teacher. He said both sides couldn''t "get their cards right," which helped convince him that taking the position wasn''t the best fit for his family.
"It was a very tough decision," Wilkerson said. "New Hope is a great baseball program, but I do want my wife to be happy, and, unfortunately the timing wasn''t right with what they had open. There were a lot of uncertainties with what she was going to do when she got there. I am one of those guys who puts his family first."
Wilkerson said he had been offered the job last week and that he was in Lowndes County over the weekend to tour the school and the athletic facilities.
While impressed with the baseball program and the school''s facilities, Wilkerson said the fact that there were no classroom teaching jobs available for his wife proved to be a stumbling block. He said his wife, who also has a master''s degree in psychology, wants to teach and he didn''t want "to drag her off to another town and have her not be happy with what she does in her profession."
"I like the situation I am in now (referring to St. Aloysius)," Wilkerson said. "It is a good situation, and I feel like the decision I made is in the best interest of my family. Maybe in the future there or somewhere else it will be a better fit for our whole family."
A native of Forest, Wilkerson played at Forest High, where he was a standout in football and baseball. He initially went to Louisiana Tech to play quarterback on the football team but transferred to Mississippi College, where he was a standout on the baseball team from 2000-02.
After a stellar collegiate career, Wilkerson played several years of minor league baseball with the Baton Rouge River Bats, an Independent Affiliate of Professional Baseball.
After his professional career ended, Wilkerson served as an assistant at Mississippi College for two years.
From there, he moved to St. Aloysius, where he recently completed his sixth season. His career record is 123-42.
"I understand they have to know, but I couldn''t take the job and not know what my wife was going to do," Wilkerson said. "With the way things are right now it is kind of tough."
Wilkerson said his decision not to take the New Hope High baseball job had nothing to do with what happened to Stacy Hester or the fact that as a coach in the Lowndes County school district he would be an at-will employee.
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.
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.
Wilkerson also praised the work of New Hope High assistant principal Matt Smith for his work in the hiring process.
"New Hope baseball is always going to be a position I will be very excited about," Wilkerson said. "Who wouldn''t? They have a tradition and have had great players all of the time."
More than 20 applications reportedly were received to take the job vacated by Hester, who won 551 games and three state titles in 18 years as the school''s coach.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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