PILOT MOUNTAIN — The fall sports season is rapidly approaching, and East Surry will be featuring some new faces and some new roles on the coaching staffs.
In total, seven sports will have new head coaches, including three in the upcoming fall sports.
• For the first time in school history, East Surry will have a cross-country team. Ronald Montgomery, the current head of the JROTC program at the school, will be the program’s inaugural coach.
Athletic Director Randy Marion said that as of today, six guys and one girl are signed up for the team. He believes that this number will greatly increase once school starts.
Marion is also very excited about the potential positives of having a cross country team this year.
“Everyone else has one, and there was no reason East Surry shouldn’t have one either,” Marion said. “This gives more of opportunities to our students to participate in extra-curricular activities, and another big reason I wanted to do it was for the Wells Fargo Cup.”
Marion said that East Surry finished second in the Cup despite winning seven regular season championships, and that the Cardinals would have won if they had a cross country team.
• In boys’ soccer, Mike Lowery will replace longtime coach Bill Hart, who will continue to coach the girls’ team in the spring.
Lowery was an assistant to Hart last season and will remain an assistant to the girls’ team in the spring.
“We graduated a lot of seniors from last year’s soccer team,” Marion said. “We’re going to have to be patient with Mike, but we all expect big things from him.”
• Wrapping up the changes in the fall sports is Ashley Powell, who will become the new girls’ tennis coach, replacing David Kidd. She is a former tennis player at Salem College.
• Caleb Gilley, who was the Northwest Conference coach of the year for volleyball, has two new jobs this year.
In the winter, he takes over the girls’ basketball team for Keith Gunter, who stepped down at the end of the last season.
Gilley said he has two of his three assistant spots nailed down already. Jan Marion-Kiser is the head volleyball coach at Surry Community College, but has helped at the high school before. Lekita Shuff is on Gilley’s volleyball staff along with Caitlin Voigt and Katelyn Markle.
Lekita was a player of the year in volleyball her senior year, noted Gilley.
• Come the spring, Gilley is switching back to a former sport.
When he first started at East, Gilley split the track coaching duties with Gunter. Then he moved over to the boys’ golf team for the past two years.
Now he is moving back to track, handling the girls’ squad.
“As long as those girls like him, it will be a positive that he coaches all three sports,” Marion said. “Caleb has been a blessing to us, and we’re excited about this move for him.”
Some of the same girls who play volleyball and/or basketball will be on the track team, Gilley noted. That will make it easier to coordinate offseason conditioning programs if he is already seeing these kids at track practice.
• With a need in boys’ golf, wrestling coach Darren Haywood will take over the boys’ program in 2016. Haywood also is an assistant coach on the football team.
• Baseball legend Barry Hall has retired, and longtime assistant Chad Freeman will take over the varsity team, with his dad Jerry assisting him.
Freeman said David Johnson has agreed to continue coaching the JV team.
One new wrinkle already seen this past season was Freeman using a number system to call out pitches to catcher Blake Marion. Freeman said Hall used some simple signals for things like steals and bunts, so he plans on going with a sign that’s a little harder to steal.
Freeman will continue to coach the girls’ golf team.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692 and Jackson at 415-4702.