After two petitions to the Liberty County Board of Education have received attention this year, more than 100 Bradwell Institute students are following suit to influence a decision that will affect the school’s football program.
Ninth-grade offensive lineman Shawn Strickland recently began a petition, asking that defensive coordinator Jeff Miller be hired to act as head coach.
“I started it because I feel like Jeff Miller should be the head coach. He has experience, and he knows all of us, and he knows our weaknesses and our strengths,” Strickland said. “I just went around asking for signatures for who wants to help coach Miller be a head coach.”
This is not the first time the public has weighed in on coaching calls for the school’s football program.
As the Courier previously reported, several people urged the board to oust former coach and athletic director Jim Walsh for the team’s record over the last two seasons. In February, the BoE voted not to extend Walsh’s coaching contract, but they did extend his teaching gig.
Bradwell Principal Scott Carrier confirmed Tuesday that he received the petition.
“I appreciate their effort and their input into the process …,” Carrier said. “We are pleased that our students have found a responsible way of making their thoughts known to us, and we promise them that a decision will be made that we feel is in their best interest.”
Almost 50 candidates have applied for the job, Carrier said. A committee comprised of school administrators, teachers and community members will begin the interview process this week after spring break ends.
He said the petition will be shown to the committee along with pertinent information related to experience, current and past employer recommendations, success in past programs and the candidates’ impressions upon committee members.
Strickland’s father, former Gum Branch Mayor Richard Strickland, brought the petition to the Courier’s attention.
“About 50 percent of those signatures are football players, and the other 50 percent are students,” Richard Strickland said.
“You know if the kids didn’t like him and support him, they wouldn’t sign that paper,” Richard Strickland said, adding that his son only reached a limited number of students due to time and class restrictions.
Most of the signatures were collected during weight training and between classes, the senior Strickland said.
He pointed out one signature that piqued his interest: that of assistant and junior-varsity coach Aaron Mock.
“See, we know that coach Miller would be the man to put in place, because the kids like and they respect him,” Richard Strickland said. “They’ll follow him a lot better. I’m not saying some other coach won’t do a great job, but I think he’s the man for the job.”
Miller reportedly has been with the school for 19 years.
“He’s got a lot of people who support him,” Richard Strickland added. “You know, and I’d like for the people who live around here to know, especially parents who have got kids who — play football, to know about it.”
Miller could not be reached for comment.