MMI hires new football coach

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 13, 2005

Marion Military Institute has had a great deal of success on the basketball court in recent years, finishing within mere buckets of winning a state title in both Boys’ and Girls’ hoops. On the football field, however, success has been a little harder to come by.

That might be about to change now, though, as MMI has hired a new football coach with a proven record for turning around programs both light on players and light on wins. Former Meek High School coach Lamar Frith has signed on to give the Tigers the kind of success on the gridiron they’ve had on the hardwood. MMI Athletic Director Dr. Michelle Ivey says Frith’s hiring will be a big step forward for the program.

“We had some great candidates that showed an interest in our football program,” she said. “Coach Frith stood out among the other candidates not only with his experience in building successful football programs but also in the teaching and administrative areas.”

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According to a statement released by MMI, when Frith arrived as head football coach at Meek, a 1A school in remote Winston County, the team only had eight players participating. Despite that disadvantage, Frith convinced more and more players to join his cause and took his teams to the 2000 AHSAA playoffs that first year. It was a feat he would achieve in four of his five years at Meek.

Although MMI has not been quite that starved for players, Ivey says that participation has been a hurdle for the program. It’s a hurdle she’s hoping Frith will help the team clear.

“Here at MI, year-in, year-out we haven’t had the kind of numbers of players you need to compete,” she said. “Everywhere coach Frith has been, he’s started with a program low in numbers and made it a success. We felt that was one of his biggest strengths.”

The position became available with the recent decision by MMI President Col. James Benson that each MMI athletic program would need its own head coach to reach its full potential. Since Dr. Ivey’s husband David Ivey had been serving as head coach for both football and baseball, a hire needed to be made.

“David’s first love has always been baseball,” Dr. Ivey said. “So he retired as head coach of the football team.”

Benson’s decision to upgrade the status of the athletic department and the football program in particular was a major factor in Frith’s interest, he told the Times.

“I was impressed by the commitment on the part of Col. Benson to develop a winning football program,” coach Frith said, “and they have excellent facilities… I haven’t met the kids yet, but I know we’ll be successful.”

Frith, who has more than 25 years of experience in the coaching field, says that he’s ready to get to work with his new team.

“I’m real excited,” he says. “I’m looking forward to it.”

In addition to serving as head football coach, Frith will teach high school math and serve as the Assistant Headmaster.