— Editor’s note: This is the second of four features on the finalists for the men's head basketball position at Dalton State College.
For Henry Dickerson, the beauty of the job would be the start.
He wants to be a “pioneer” for Dalton State College athletics.
Dickerson, a resident of Durham, N.C., is one of the four finalists named Tuesday for the Dalton State College men’s basketball head coaching position. DSC Athletic Director Derek Waugh said the finalists will come in for on-campus interviews during the next week and a half. In addition to Nash, the finalists are former Georgia Southern assistant coach Carl Nash; Dalton native and former Kennesaw State University head coach Tony Ingle; and former Winthrop University head coach Randy Peele.
With more than 30 years of coaching experience, Dickerson has ties to a school about 30 minutes up the interstate. Before making three stops in North Carolina, he spent 15 years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. From 1989 to 1997 he was the associate head coach and from 1997 to 2002 was the Mocs men’s basketball.
He is currently the head coach at Johnston Community College (Smithfield, N.C.) and previously was a University of North Carolina Wilmington assistant coach from 2009 to 2010 and the North Carolina Central University (Durham) head coach from 2004 to 2009.
But this potential opportunity would be starting from scratch. The Roadrunners have not had a men’s basketball program in 30 years but plan to relaunch it for the 2013-14 school year. Dickerson, 60, believes he has experience. He was part of North Carolina Central’s transition starting in 2005 from Division II to Division I.
“I’ve kind of been through it before but not starting from scratch,” he said. “When we were at North Carolina Central, we went from Division II to Division I. We had like seven home games a year ... It’s the challenge of it all, and you’re like a pioneer.”
The goings might be tough starting out, Dickerson said, including being without a conference home. Waugh previously said he’s trying to get the Roadrunners locked in an National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) conference for the 2013 year or soon after.
“Again, you may not be in a conference the first year or second,” he said. “But me and the young men, if they ever won a national championship, we could look back and say, ‘We were the pioneers. We were a part of it just like anyone else.’”
Similar to fellow finalist Nash, Dickerson also believes recruiting is an important part of laying the groundwork for the program. And with recruiting, there are two things he thinks players will buy. One is time on the court, and the other is the same reason he wants to come to DSC.
“All young men, you can sell playing time,” Dickerson said. “They all want to play. Whoever you bring in, they have to play right away for you, so that would be a good selling point.
“You will be the only sport, and again, you’re setting the tone to bring the rest of the sports.”
Dickerson understands that starting a program is difficult, but sees basketball at DSC as a springboard.
“If you can go in and do a good job and sell the program and bring in good kids, I think it all follows suit,” he said. “People begin to talk. It makes the transition for the other sports a lot easier. None of it will be easy, but at least we laid the foundation for the other sports.”