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Coach changes mind on ECHS job

By By Paul Keane
Publisher
Escambia County High School apparently had a new head football coach, but a change of heart now keeps that search going.
Lymos McDonald, head football coach at Courtland High School, resigned his position Tuesday night, telling the Board of Education there that he was accepting the head coaching position at ECHS. After a barrage of phone calls from community members and a conference with his family, though, McDonald informed officials in Courtland and here that he had a change of heart.
ECHS Principal Jerry Smith said Thursday that reports in the Decatur Daily about McDonald accepting the job were false. "We don't have a head coach right now, so there is nothing to comment on," he said.
Escambia County Superintendent of Schools Melvin "Buck" Powell did confirm Thursday that McDonald had accepted the job, only to change his mind. Powell said the search for a head coach at the largest school in the county would continue.
McDonald said Friday morning that the decision to remain at Courtland – where he has won a Class 1A state title and built the program into a perennial powerhouse – was not an easy one.
"Yes, Tuesday night I did resign and say I was going to Atmore," he said in a telephone interview. "Sometime that night, though, I had a change of heart."
McDonald said his phone rang constantly Tuesday night until about 3 a.m. Wednesday, mainly from residents calling to ask him to reconsider his decision.
"The community really rallied around me and my family," he said. "There were a lot of phone calls, and this community showed us a lot of love and support."
The final factor in the decision came when he discussed the move with his family.
"I have three daughters, and all of them are A Honor Roll students," he said. "One of them is going to be a senior next year, and we have a daughter in eighth grade and another in fifth grade.
"There were tears in the eyes of my oldest daughter, and I guess I'm just a sucker for a lady in distress. I finally discovered that this would be a career move for me, but not for my family. I decided that I was being a little selfish and that I needed to do what we felt was right for our family at this time. Staying here is what is best for our daughters."
McDonald praised the Atmore area and ECHS, a school his wife graduated from in 1984.
"Escambia County is going to be a great job for whoever gets it," he said. "I had the chance to walk the halls and I saw a lot of good things down there.
"There was a lot of discipline, and I really liked the fact that students were wearing uniforms. There are also a number of athletes there, so whoever gets that job has a chance to be very successful."
McDonald admitted that the move to Atmore would have meant an increase in pay and less coaching duties. He currently coaches football, basketball and track at Courtland, and he is helping direct the expansion of facilities at the school.
"There was nothing about the job down there that turned me off," McDonald said. "Mr. Smith has done a great job at the school, and both he and Mr. Powell were wonderful to me when I went down there to visit.
"This was the toughest decision I've had to make in my life. The decision to stay was tougher than the decision to leave."