By Maurice Patton
Officially set to assume duties as principal at Columbia Central on July 1, Kevin Eady has plenty to address in the three-plus weeks prior.
As he transitions to the helm of Maury County’s “flagship school” after three years at Hickman County, high on Eady’s list of priorities are a pair of athletic department openings – the girls basketball coaching position, vacant since Joshua Bugg’s March 5 dismissal after four seasons, and the softball coaching spot, which was filled on an interim basis by Hannah Cole after Shelby Burchell Tietgens’ mid-January resignation ended a three-game tenure.
“I still have duties in Hickman County, but I’m hoping to get time to come in and maybe even begin interviewing,” said Eady, who resides in Columbia and previously held administrative roles at Whitthorne Middle, McDowell Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Mt. Pleasant Middle and E.A. Cox Middle – the last four as principal.
“I’d love to get something done before the ‘dead period’, but I can’t guarantee that.”
The 49-year-old Eady, who played football, basketball and baseball at Moore County, said he’ll lean on Maury County Public Schools athletics director Chris Poynter as he works through the process to fill both positions.
“I think he has the information to get me so I can start looking at applications and resumes and start doing some reference checks,” Eady said. “I need to reach out and see who’s still interested. With my administration, my contacts across the state, I want to use those and try to bring in the best coach I possibly can, as quickly as I can.
“I know Carden (Virgo, assistant girls basketball coach) is doing a good job with them, getting them some work this summer, but I want to finalize that as soon as possible and get that taken care of.”
MCPS director Michael Hickman anticipates Eady reacting to the urgency of the coaching situations.
“We have to get those filled immediately, even though it may not be, per se, a fall sport,” Hickman said. “ … some of them will do summer practices. Some of them are allowed to do their tryouts and so forth in the summer. We need to get those people in position quickly.
“I want them quickly, but I do want to make sure we get the right person for those student-athletes.”
Eady’s athletic background was a factor, Hickman said, in his appointment as the successor to Roger White — a Central graduate who spent nine years in the role before he was suspended in late March and later reassigned to McDowell, which closed at the end of the school year.
“We made a list of what we were specifically looking for: We needed a culture builder, someone that knew about sports, someone that had high school experience, someone that was a strong instructional leader,” Hickman said. “It sounds almost cliché-ish, all these boxes I’m talking about checking off.
“At the end of the process, it was pretty unanimous that Kevin Eady was our guy. He’s really known as a culture builder, and that’s exactly what Central needs right now – someone to go in and help build the culture. It was a shocking ending for them at the end of the year, losing a principal. They needed someone that wasn’t going to be so much an iron fist, going in there (like) ‘my way or the highway’, (but) someone that was going to go in and build those relationships, keep the school moving forward in academics, athletics and all the other club areas.”
While the athletic issues provide immediate high-profile challenges, Eady is excited to take them on along with everything else that comes with his new role.
“What’s good, you want to make better. What’s struggling, you want to start making plans to address those areas and look for improvement,” he said. “There are a lot of students I know, a lot of teachers I know, but there’s going to be a lot I do not know. I want to build some relationships and let them know who I am, and I’m here for all of them.
“With a school like Columbia Central, you’re going to get a lot of qualified applicants, not just from Maury County, but probably statewide. Columbia Central is the flagship school of Maury County; tremendous honor and a lot of prestige comes with it. I’m honored.”