Darren Doyle, story and photos
ECHS has been without a head football coach since the position was left open by Athletic Director Kyle Pierce, who was the head coach for 12 seasons, until today when the school announced Nathan Smith has been hired to fill the role.
Pierce, who stepped down as head coach on November 24, 2015, said Smith was a "Wildcat through and through."
"The decision making process was very thorough," Pierce said. "I've been through the hiring of some coaches before, but this was a little extra special for me. After many hours of debating and meetings on what we should do, our entire committee came back with one name, and that was Nathan Smith."
Smith is no stranger to Edmonson County, nor ECHS Football. The 27 year-old graduated from ECHS in 2008 and currently teaches math and algebra I at the school. He played for the Wildcats from 2004-2007 and started at center as a freshman. He has been an assistant coach at ECHS for the past 8 seasons and has served as head football coach for the Edmonson County Middle School for the past 4. He is a 2012 graduate of WKU.
"This has been a dream of mine since I was 13 years old," Coach Smith said. "When I was in the seventh grade, I saw some high school practices going on on the practice field, and I said 'you know what? I want that to be me.'"
Smith said he was blessed to be in such a position, and that this will make the 18th consecutive year that he's played a role in football in Edmonson County, going all the way to his little league days.
Coach Smith addressed the audience, mostly made up of the current team. "I've got a good vision for our program, and I've got lots of ideas," he said. "Coach Pierce has been my mentor, he's taught me so much of what I know. I want to take what he's done, that foundation, and build on it. I'm totally invested, and my plans are to be here for a while, as I don't plan on leaving here as a teacher, so I'm with you all for the long haul."
When Smith was asked as to when he would start his coaching duties, he replied, "Tuesday, after the three-day weekend...we're already behind."
A.D. Pierce said about 9 candidates were interviewed and the job came down to 4 individuals. After looking at the total picture, he said the program was best suited to be under the direction of Smith.
"The high school process is different, say than college," Pierce said. "In college, you go out and hand pick someone that just coaches football. Here, there's a high school atmosphere that you have to respect. How can they fit in as a teacher? How do they fit within the school system? The good thing is, we had 4 people that were really strong candidates, but we just felt like Coach Smith was the most logical choice, and when the committee members are all saying the same guy, it just makes you feel better at the end of the day."