GREENFIELD — Faced with the task of finding a new varsity football coach following the resignation of Roger Dodson on May 29, Greenfield-Central administrators wanted the best man for the job.
That man: Roger Dodson.
Dodson was rehired as the Cougars’ head coach Monday at the Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation board meeting, completing an unusual six-week journey for the veteran coach.
Citing impending changes to the way Indiana calculates teacher retirement and pension funds, Dodson, 60, decided in May it was in his best financial interest to retire as a physical education teacher at G-C. State guidelines stipulate teachers must resign from extracurricular posts when they retire. They can resume those jobs after 30 days.
Dodson, who said he never would have stepped down as coach if not required by law to do so, reapplied for the football position, then went through a pair of committee screenings and interviews – beating out over 20 other candidates – in a process that culminated with Monday’s official board approval.
“It’s been a unique situation, that’s for sure,” Dodson said later Monday evening. “I’m glad it’s over with. I’m just ready to get back to work with the players and coaches.
“Greenfield is where I’ve wanted to be. That never changed. And I’m grateful to be back.”
G-C administrators Steve Bryant and Jared Manning, who were part of the committees that whittled down 23 initial applicants for the job, said Dodson earned the right to return.
Dodson is 29-57 in eight seasons at G-C and has produced only two winning seasons, in 2010 (7-5) and 2011 (6-5). But, as Bryant pointed out Monday, those are the only back-to-back winning seasons in program history besides the Clayton Myers-led 1973-75 campaigns that included a state title.
“I think that gets overlooked sometimes,” Bryant, the G-C high school principal said of Dodson’s 2010 and 2011 success. “And the seasons that have been down, like last year, we had eight, nine seniors on the bench with just weird injuries. They weren’t injuries that might have been related to conditioning.
“Then when we were healthy, you saw what we could do at the end of the year. We were very competitive, and with a sophomore quarterback”
The Cougars took an eight-game losing streak into the 2013 sectional, then beat Muncie Central 23-22 in the tourney opener before falling 16-13 to a Mt. Vernon squad that finished 9-3. G-C finished 2-9.
“I just think there’s a lot of people that believe in (Dodson),” Bryant added. “He has also compiled a coaching staff that I think is second to none and has the best I’ve seen in my 40 years as an administrator.
“And I think they’re all very loyal to him, work hard for him. The kids know him, have good relationships with him.”
Current assistant football coaches approved for another season by the school board Monday were Kyle Addison, Wayne Addison, Rick Culver, Brock Dodson, Todd Dodson, Reece Green and Robbie Miller.
Roger Dodson expects his remaining staff members, including Josh Holden, Nick Kerkhof, Trent Taylor and Scott Miller – who served as interim coach during Dodson’s brief absence – to return to the coaching staff this season, as well.
Dodson’s familiarity with the program and the coaches was only one factor in his rehire, according to Manning, the G-C athletic director.
“Throughout the interview process we had serious questions, especially coming down to last month before season started,” Manning said. “A few of them were offensive philosophy, defensive philosophy, those types of things.
“But then also wanted information on more of the organizational pieces. And Roger came in and he was by far the most organized. He was extremely prepared. Had things written down to a T as far as scheduling and those types of things.”
From the time he resigned as head coach until he interviewed for the position, Dodson and G-C officials had no contact, Dodson and Bryant said. Dodson was also, obviously, not allowed to work with the football team.
The coach said he had no choice but to treat the interview process as if he was applying for the very first time.
“I had to do it that way,” Dodson commented. “Obviously I wasn’t only one applying. I’m sure there were some other good candidates. So you have to be prepared and do the right things to ready for the interview.”
A screening committee narrowed the initial 23 candidates to six finalists. Those finalists appeared individually before an 11-man committee that included G-C central office administrators, board members, G-C administrators and parent and Greenfield Youth Football League representatives.
Bryant said “a vast majority” of the 11-man committee was in favor of Dodson’s rehire.
“Quite frankly, he had the best interview,” the principal said. “I’m not so sure we wouldn’t have hired him anyway, regardless (if he wasn’t previously the coach).”
Prior to arriving at G-C in 2006, Dodson had an overall winning record (64-59) in 14 seasons as head coach Franklin and Indian Creek. Dodson was also an assistant at Lawrence North.
Although Dodson never seriously considered not reapplying for the G-C coaching position, the six-week absence from the position served as a chance to fall in love with the sport all over again.
“When you’re away from football like I have been for several weeks, I think you realize how much you miss it,” said Dodson, who played for Butler University in the early 1970s. “For me, it’s been 38 years as a coach and another 10 as a player. That’s 48 out of 60 years in organized football. From that aspect, time away only makes you better appreciate how much you enjoy it.”
Other coaching hires
* The Cougars also hired a new boys tennis coach Monday. Ryan Smith, a lay coach, becomes G-C’s fourth head coach since 2009, following Frank DeLois (2013), Jeff Sincroft (2010-12) and David Spencer (2006-2009).
Tennis players are encouraged to meet Smith at the G-C tennis courts today at 6 p.m.
* In volleyball, head coach Kim Wildman was approved for another season. Assistant coaches approved Monday were Kim Lashaway (former Mt. Vernon head coach), Kimberly Little, Jennifer Massey and Emily Nickels.
* Former player standouts Collin Kleckner and Jeremiah Spencer were approved as boys soccer volunteer coaches. Paula Culver will return as a girls soccer assistant.
* In cross country, Greg Arnold, Megan Frantz, Hunter White and Paul Youngkin were approved by the board as assistant coaches.
* Allie Dickmann and Laken Peal will assist as cheer coaches.
* And, as previously reported, Gary Cerqua is the new G-C boys basketball junior varsity coach.