By Rebekah Martin
Opelika High School’s new head football coach began Monday, and he now has an official athletic director in Erik Speakman. The Opelika City School Board of Education discussed separating the two positions at length at its monthly meeting last Thursday.
Former Opelika head coach Brian Blackmon filled both positions before taking a job as an offensive analyst for the Auburn University football team Feb. 24.
Speakman, who was the school’s assistant athletic director under Blackmon and Driver’s Education teacher, will continue to teach and assume athletic director duties immediately.
OCS Superintendent Dr. Mark Neighbors said at the meeting that he has been wanting to separate the two positions for the past few years. “My opinion to the board was that I didn’t think we needed a full-time person dedicated to just that position, that we have other folks who are helping – Devin Booth is an assistant (athletic director) and she’ll keep doing that … so, we didn’t create a new position, we just added the full responsibilities to someone who was already an assistant.”
Neighbors added that the future of Opelika athletics looks bright.
“We’re talking about how to be more engaged in more corporate partnerships … working with developing our young coaches, more technical skills and clinics and things like that. We’ve always evaluated programs in where they are … we’ve never evaluated how many wins … we evaluate what you’re doing. As long as the kids are prepared, and doing the best they can … wins and losses are certainly important, but if the kids show good effort, they’re well-disciplined and know the fundamentals of the game … sometimes you get out-executed or face better talent, but we don’t evaluate based on wins and losses. but what product we’re putting out there and that will continue, I believe.”
In other business, the board also:
-approved an out of state field trip request for the honors math class at Opelika High School.
-heard a presentation by John Boles of Barfield, Murphy, Shank and Smith, LLC on the FY’16 audit report.
-approved Neighbors’s personnel recommendations.