June 3, 2013

A smart move by Dalton High

The big, bold headline in this newspaper Friday declared “A big part of Big Red,” referring to the hiring of longtime coach Jeff McKinney as athletic director of Dalton High School.

Indeed, he has been a part of the school since 2001, both as a coach in various sports and as a math teacher. On Thursday, he was named AD and assistant principal. He will begin the new positions on July 1.

The former AD of three years, Ron Ward, will become associate principal at the school.

McKinney’s qualifications for the position are many. He has 21 years’ experience in education and previously worked in administration at Rossville Middle School. He has coached the varsity girls basketball team for the past 12 seasons and was the varsity softball coach in 2012 after working as an assistant the previous three seasons.

His tenure on the basketball court in particular was successful as the Lady Catamounts qualified for the state tournament in 10 of his 12 seasons, including reaching the state title game in 2011.

Some may say that because of his experience in a variety of sports, he isn’t “football-oriented” enough as many feel a Dalton High AD should be.

But it is that varied experience that gives McKinney a boost at this juncture, when other sports are playing a big role in defining Dalton High’s athletic success. The Catamounts won state titles in boys soccer and boys swimming this past school year, and the school had good seasons in many other sports as well. McKinney is apt to be more fair with non-football athletic activities.

His fellow coaches believe this to be true, as several voiced support for his promotion, saying that “(Jeff) will be fair to everybody,” as Dalton boys basketball coach Mike Duffie said.

The incoming school principal, Steve Bartoo, also expressed support for the selection of McKinney.

Although he probably will remain partial to the girls basketball team, since he spent a dozen years with that program, McKinney shouldn’t be favoring them too much either.  He resigned that position because at Dalton, “it’s understood that administrators don’t coach,” as he put it.

So one of his first priorities this summer is finding a replacement for himself at the helm of the girls team.

The school decided to fill the AD/assistant principal position from among internal candidates. That is not always the best method to find a good worker, but in this case, we feel the school made the right decision.

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