The following story will appear in Wednesday’s Fayette Advertiser, but for you loyal readers, I’ll give you a one-day head-start on the subscribers.
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VanDeZande named Fayette football coach
Harrisburg assistant spent five seasons as football head coach at Southern Boone
By Greg Jackson
The Fayette school board met in a special closed session on Saturday morning. One of the items on the agenda was to finalize the hiring of a new high school football head coach.
By a vote of 5-0, the school board approved the hiring of Roger VanDeZande as the Falcons’ new head coach for the 2016 fall season.
“I’m really excited,” VanDeZande said. “I love the school and I love the size of the school. The community is great and I think there is a lot of potential there.”
VanDeZande’s subsequent teaching assignment has not yet been finalized but will be approved by the school administration for the 2016-17 school year. He replaces former head coach Tom Oakley, who resigned in December after four seasons as head coach and 19 years total with the Fayette football program.
After going through several applications for the position, the school administration narrowed the pool of candidates to three people: VanDeZande, Greg Hough of Carrollton High School and Rich Johnson of Braymer High School. The three finalists were interviewed on March 1 and, later that night, were introduced to the public at a reception held at the high school. Approximately 120 people attended the reception and had the opportunity to meet and talk with each of the head-coaching candidates.
“The Fayette R-III School District wishes to thank everyone who participated in the reception for the head football coaching candidates,” stated the Fayette school board in a press release, following the announcement of VanDeZande’s hiring on Monday morning. “Your comments were important and were taken into consideration as the interview team met to discuss the future of Fayette football and the classroom component tied to this position. Roger VanDeZande was the finalist selected and has been approved by the board. Coach V will be meeting with players and parents soon to begin preparing for the upcoming season.”
VanDeZande said he was very encouraged by the response from the community at the public forum.
“I thought it was great,” VanDeZande said. “I got the same kind of response from Fayette fans every time I see them. I look at Fayette fans and they always seem to be very hopeful. It gave me the chance to talk to kids, parents, board members and quite a few people who didn’t have kids and just came.”
VanDeZande is currently teaching at Harrisburg High School, where he has been for the past two years. VanDeZande coaches three sports at Harrisburg. He serves as an assistant football coach, assistant girls basketball coach and assistant track and field coach, all at the high-school level.
Prior to coaching at Harrisburg, VanDeZande spent five seasons at Southern Boone High School, where he served as the football and track and field head coach. In five seasons with the Eagles, VanDeZande posted a 21-32 record and guided Southern Boone to the Class 3 state playoffs in 2010 and 2011. Southern Boone won a district championship in 2010.
“The most important thing to me is to see the change that comes over the young people in the program,” VanDeZande said. “Over the years, I’ve found some secrets, as far as strength and conditioning and offensive football, that I think we can have some success. I want to make it fun for everybody.”
VanDeZande said he has been coaching football for 37 years and has compiled an overall record of 129-121. Before he came to Missouri to coach football, he spent 12 years coaching in the NAIA and NCAA Division III ranks.
In 2001, VanDeZande was named the AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year while serving as the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Southern Oregon. The Raiders reached the quarterfinals of the NAIA playoffs that season.
After spending five years at Southern Oregon, VanDeZande coached for two seasons at North Central College in Illinois, serving as the defensive coordinator. He then returned to Oregon to become the head coach at Lewis & Clark College and came back to Illinois to spend three seasons as the head coach at Blackburn College, which dropped its football program after the 2008 season.
Following his several years coaching college football, VanDeZande was hired as a physical education teacher at Southern Boone for the 2009-10 school year.
In regard to coaching philosophy, VanDeZande has what he calls the “four points of purpose.” Those four points are academic excellence, winning with class, developing character and demonstrating leadership.
“We’re going to work on those things, but we’re going to work awful darn hard on getting bigger, faster and stronger,” VanDeZande said.
VanDeZande said he met with the assistant football coaches last week and intends to meet with players, parents and teachers within the next week. He added that he wants to get in MSHSAA contact days as early as he can once the school year ends, and he added that he will have the weight room open two times a day, so the kids will always have an opportunity to come in and lift.
“We’re going to lift, lift, lift and get ready for the season, starting ASAP,” VanDeZande said. “This summer, I expect all players to attend 90 percent of the workouts in the offseason. In the long term, I expect our team GPA to be a 3.25.”
The Fayette football team is coming off a 4-7 record in the 2015 season, reaching the Class 1 District 6 semifinals. The Falcons had a total of eight All-Conference players and three will return next season.
VanDeZande joins Fayette as the Falcons will begin a venture into an expanded Lewis & Clark Conference. Next season, the conference will add Knox County, Schuyler County, Scotland County and Harrisburg, VanDeZande’s current school.
VanDeZande is a 1978 graduate of Bend High School in Oregon and received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Oregon State University in 1982. He lives in Ashland with his wife, Terri, and her two children, Blake and Brady. Terri is a graduate of Central Methodist University and a 2007 inductee into the Hairston Hall of Fame. She played basketball, softball and soccer for the Eagles.
VanDeZande also has two sons, Jared and Matthew. Both are graduates of the University of Missouri.