Video: Edison football highlights vs. Rancho Verde
See the Chargers in action under Dave White.
The leadership at Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
had to do something recently that it hasn't had to do since Ronald Reagan was President – hire a new football coach. In this day and age when 20 percent of head coaches in Southern California resigned, got fired or quit after the 2015 season, it is rare to see a coach at the helm for three decades. In fact, Dave White was a quarterback at Edison, and spent a total of 38 years teaching and coaching there.
How do you replace a guy who built a solid contender every year with grace and dignity? I had the chance to discuss this with Edison Athletic Director Richard Boyce. He's been there for 17 years, eight as the athletic director.
"I really hope this is the only head football coach I will ever have to hire as an AD," he told me. "The fanfare that coach White received, that brought a lot of attention to the high school, and to the job. He announced his retirement at the end of last year, said that the 2016 season would be his last. So we had time to put together the process. A lot of people couldn't believe the job actually came open. It is a very attractive job."
He went on to explain, "We wanted to find someone of character because Dave White is a man of high character who led these young men and we wanted to find someone else who did the same thing. We advertised on all of the standard websites, and in all of the newspapers that we could."
The team responsible for finding a replacement for coach White consisted of just three people: Athletic Director Boyce, principal Jennifer Graves and one assistant principal, John Elliot. They had more than 50 phone inquiries about the position, and received 35 applications. Some might argue that this is not very many compared to many reported job searches that receive more than 100, or in Texas where it is usual to have 150 and sometimes even 200 applicants for a position. But who wants to follow a legend like Dave White?
The three administrators received the applications and then began a vetting process, like most companies and school districts do.
"We wanted to see who was really qualified for this job by first looking for candidates with head coaching experience," Boyce said about the first step.
"We also looked for someone who was a teacher; that eliminated some applicants. We wanted someone on campus. Then we made phone calls, did background checks, and that eliminated some others. So, this vetting process ended up knocking it down to a handful of candidates who we spent time getting to know through an interview," Boyce said. The whole process took about two months.
I asked Boyce what set the final selection apart during the interview process (a team of five did the interviewing).
"Everyone who we interviewed had great qualities. Not only was our selection (Jeff Grady) a former player here, but his character showed through during the interview process, and during the background checks. Having good leaders will make your team good. It will keep them competing. Having Dave White here had our kids believing every single season that they could compete, no matter the circumstances. The identity of Edison is tied into this football team. We wanted a person with high character who would continue to lead with that character, and we believe Jeff Grady is that guy."
Chris Fore is a veteran football coach and athletic director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.