Archived Story

Mathis’ decision was labored

Published 4:49pm Friday, July 23, 2010

Despite reports to the contrary, Todd Mathis’ move to Demopolis High School was anything but a foregone conclusion. The former Marengo Academy head coach was not looking to take the first thing smoking out of Linden. Nor did he have an agreement in place with Demopolis prior to the beginning of this past season.

The facts, which can often be skewed in small towns and by less than responsible commentators, are simple. Mathis is friends with one of the DHS softball boosters. That is not uncommon in a community this size or with a sport like softball that thrives on a tight-knit atmosphere.

The idea was first presented to Mathis several months ago. At the time, he balked at the notion.

He was in the process of trying to lead MA to its first fast pitch state title. And, at that time, most of his thoughts regarding his future were spent dwelling on leaving the game entirely. The youngest of his two daughters was about to graduate and he believed it was time to hand MA’s parent-driven program over to the next set of capable hands.

It was not until May that the possibility of the Demopolis job became legitimately viable for Mathis.

After sealing MA’s first title, the overtures from his friends associated with the Demopolis program became more intense. And, even though Mathis had initially rejected the notion of taking the job, he resumed his internal deliberations after further entreaties.

It was not until June that Demopolis administrators became involved in the process. At that time, no offer was made and no terms reached. Mathis and his family took a vacation shortly thereafter to get away from the area, hoping to return home with a decision regarding an intended direction.

Coaching softball is something Mathis enjoys and the thought of giving it up entirely was difficult. And while he felt welcome and wanted at Marengo Academy, he ultimately believed his time with the program had reached its end. So he opted to take on the fresh challenges and new rewards of the Demopolis program.

Still, it was not until three weeks ago that Mathis began working with the Demopolis players. He knew that to wait any longer would be to put the program further behind. He had no coaching staff and no guarantee of a job. Those things would not come until the move met the approval of the Demopolis City Schools Board of Education. That vote did not take place until Monday.

It is a complicated circumstance given that Mathis is a full-time employee of Rock-Tenn and is not a member of the faculty at a DCS school. The scenario is not an uncommon one in Demopolis given that the soccer and track programs have long been headed by individuals outside the school system. However, AHSAA requirements have very specific language regarding such things and the administrators at DHS have to be very meticulous about wording and the assignment duties.

But the program is finally in the hands of Mathis after Monday’s vote; even though as of Thursday no contract of any kind had been presented or signed.

And what Demopolis fans and supporters can expect is for Mathis to do his dead-level best to help the program better itself.

What may have been lost in all of this is the fact that Joey Browder, DHS’ outgoing coach, gave all he had to the program during his tenure. What he turns over to Mathis’ capable hands is far from barren. The program is not down and it is not struggling. Browder made sure of those things before stepping down. He built it as far as he could take it. Now Mathis will try to do the same thing.

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