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Neal could fill boys hoops position by end of week

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
The search for one basketball coach at W.S. Neal High School could be drawing to a close, while the search for a second basketball coach may continue for a while.
Principal Phil Ellis said the school is expected to recommend a candidate for the boys position when the Escambia County School Board meets Friday. Meanwhile the search for a girls coach at the school may not be filled until next month at the earliest.
Both positions became vacant when the school decided not to rehire Tom Lawler. Lawler coached both the boys and girls teams during the 2003-04 school year in his only season at the school.
"We want separate coaches for our boys and girls teams. We wanted that last year too, but it just didn't work out," Ellis said.
Ellis said the school has had about 50 inquiries for the positions and of those about eight have actually applied.
"I'm pretty pleased with the interest we've had for the position. We've advertised the position across the state, but we've also had inquiries from as far away as Arizona. We've also had some interest by people from Florida and Tennessee," Ellis said. "Considering our boys are coming off a 1-22 season and our girls are coming off a 3-16 year, I'm pretty pleased with the interest we've had."
Ellis said W.S. Neal, like most schools, is limited to where it can select its candidates.
"A big key when you're trying to fill coaching positions is having the the right teaching positions available. Right now we only have two teaching areas open for next year and that's science and history," Ellis said. "The majority of coaches are physical education teachers. History is one of the next more common areas, but you don't usually find many who are qualified and can teach science."
Without a coach in place, W.S. Neal players are missing out on any summer work.
"That's something that really concerns me. Most of our boys are football players so they're getting physical workouts that way, but they're not getting anything on the basketball end. Our players fall a little farther behind every day. T.R. Miller just got through having a summer tournament I would have liked for our teams to have been in, but we didn't have anybody to take them," Ellis said. "If we can get the boys coach hired this week, there is still some time for summer work. If we can't get a girls coach hired soon, they may not get any summer work in."