NEW PALESTINE — New Palestine will welcome its third girls soccer head coach in three years following the resignation of Bobby Holden.
At Monday’s Southern Hancock School Board meeting, former Holden assistant Gina Fannin was hired to replace Holden, who stepped down after one season with the girls’ program.
Holden pulled off a rare feat in 2012: He was head coach of the New Palestine boys and girls soccer teams simultaneously. The Greenfield-Central graduate and local club soccer aficionado will continue to guide the Dragons’ boys team, where he’ll be in his third season.
Holden didn’t get into specific reasons for giving up the girls position.
“It wasn’t one main thing,” he said Sunday. “There’s a lot of little things that kept arising that required the thought to actually go out there and decide to go back to two separate head coaches.”
The Dragons went 12-7 on the girls’ side last season, losing in the sectional championship to Greenfield-Central. The loss ended a six-year sectional title streak for the Dragons. Dana Merrick coached the New Palestine girls for several years before stepping down, and Holden took over a team last year that had graduated several key starters.
Holden directed the New Palestine boys to a 10-7-1 record, ending with a sectional championship loss to Mt. Vernon.
The girls’ and boys’ sectional title games were played Oct. 6, just a few hours apart. The girls’ match at Mt. Vernon began at 5 p.m. Upon its conclusion, Holden hit the road for the New Palestine boys championship game at Shelbyville, which started at 7:30 p.m.
It was a juggling act all season for Holden, who staggered practice times for his boys and girls teams so that he could attend both.
“We knew a lot of the situations at hand going into it and we got a lot of it planned to make sure we could handle it all, and we did handle it,” said Holden, also director of coaching for the USF Real soccer club organization. “You saw last year, we did good things on both sides. I don’t think it was a letdown last year, and we planned on doing it this year, but there were a couple different things arise that we decided to make a change.”
Fannin, who was in her first year as a New Palestine assistant last season, has received positive feedback from the players.
“So far from girls I’ve talked to, they’ve said they’re going to miss Bobby, but excited I am going to be the coach,” she said. “It’s kind of bittersweet.”
A 1994 Warren Central graduate, Fannin played soccer at Butler and at Ball State before graduating from Ball State in 1998.
Fannin’s youngest child is entering the second grade, making for a good time to increase her coaching responsibilities, she said. An elementary school substitute teacher, Fannin doesn’t plan to make any immediate wholesale changes from Holden’s program.
“It’s going to be an easy transition for the girls,” she said. “We are going to work a lot on support for each other, and just easy and smooth touches on ball. Pretty much same thing he was doing.”
No longer a defending sectional champ, New Palestine will continue its rebuild this fall. The prospective 2013 roster listed on Holden’s website includes only two seniors. The largest group of incoming players is the 13-girl sophomore contingent. The Dragons’ 2012 leading scorers, Lauren Joray and Alyssa Mouzin, graduated.
The relatively young Dragons and the new head coach will ideally grow together, Holden said.
“It’s definitely a better thing going forward for everybody,” he said. “The girls might take a little time to accept it, but ultimately I think they’re going to be very happy with it. I’ve already talked to a couple of girls who are very excited to work with Gina. It’s a good thing.”
Box to guide Eagles
Former New Palestine boys soccer coach John Box has accepted a position as girls soccer head coach at Heritage Christian in Indianapolis.
Box was the most successful coach in New Palestine boys soccer history. Prior to his arrival in 2005, the Dragons had never won a sectional title. Beginning in Box’s second season, the Dragons won four straight sectional championships. They also won two regionals and three Hoosier Heritage Conference championships.
Box finished with a 79-15-4 record in five seasons. He resigned following the 2009 campaign, in part to spend more time following the soccer career of his daughter Jessica Box, then a sophomore at Jackson (Mich.) College.
Box was succeeded at New Palestine by Kevin Collins and Jimmy Mooney in 2010. Current coach Bobby Holden took over for the 2011 season.
>>Coaching changes previously announced by Eastern Hancock, Greenfield-Central, Mt. Vernon and New Palestine.
School, sport Previous coach 2013-14
EH volleyball Mike Eastes Kevin Adams
GC volleyball Rita Rouse Kim Wildman
NP volleyball Jerry Saffold Kelli Whitaker
NP football Charlie Hill Kyle Ralph
GC girls soccer Amanda Eid Erin Clark
NP girls soccer Bobby Holden Gina Fannin
GC boys tennis Jeff Sincroft Frank DeLois
EH wrestling Marty Rohrman Keith Oliver
MV boys basketball Steve Lynch Travis Daugherty
NP girls basketball Jacki Negri Brian Kehrt