The coaching carousel was in full swing in Faulkner County this year with at least 15 new coaches coming in, while a school added a sport and a change in athletic director added to the mix.
As the school year rapidly approaches, these coaches will begin to implement their strategies and try to turn fortunes or keep them going.
Perhaps the sport to receive the biggest change or the most glaring is football, which saw four new coaches across seven schools.
At the University of Central Arkansas, former quarterback and offensive coordinator Nathan Brown was promoted to head coach after Steve Campbell returned closer to home at the University of South Alabama.
Conway’s Clint Ashcraft was promoted to athletic director at the high school after Steve Daniels retired leaving a hole at the head football position.
Shortly, Har-Ber assistant coach Keith Fimple took over for Ashcraft and will begin his first season as the head Wampus Cat.
Vilonia received a new coach when Ron Young decided to resign after a pair of troubling seasons, which brought in Todd Langrell from Mayflower.
Langrell came off a season in which his Mayflower Eagles went 10-0 in their conference and finished with an overall record of 11-1.
Langrell will look to turn around an underperforming Vilonia team.
Replacing Langrell at Mayflower will be former UCA offensive lineman and former Hendrix offensive line coach Austin Emerson.
This will be Emerson’s first head coaching job.
Hendrix College saw a school-high four new coaches, while also getting a new director of athletic communications and adding beach volleyball.
Sean McSheffery takes over for Neil Groat in baseball, Kristi Crowley will lead the women’s lacrosse team and Craig Kirchgessner will take over for tennis.
Former UCA assistant volleyball coach Brittany Newberry will now lead the Hendrix volleyball team, while former Warrior volleyball player and UCA Beach Bear MC Rogers will coach Hendrix’ inaugural beach volleyball squad.
Keith Kelley has also been appointed the new director of athletic communications at Hendrix.
At Central Baptist College, Clint Galyean will try to build off the Mustangs’ 21-9 record from a season ago, while Sara Mitchell will try to turn around volleyball.
At Greenbrier, Payton Edmondson will take over for Tobin McCammon and will attempt to get the Lady Panthers back into basketball contention.
After former boys basketball coach Tim Goers left with his wife to coach at Booneville, Wonderview’s Jeremy Simon is taking over the reins fresh off winning a state championship at Wonderview with its girls team.
At Conway Christian, Trey Lynch will shift from the boys basketball coach to coaching the girls basketball team, while Austin Mitchell will take over the boys.
At Guy-Perkins, Damon Teas has the tough task of taking over for storied coach John Hutchcraft.
While each of these coaches have different tasks, each one is determined to get their team to the top of their conference and hopefully win state or national titles.
It’s unfortunate previous coaches have left, but you can’t help but feel excitement for programs wanting to move in different directions or seeing if their new hire is a home run.
The games will have to be played and execution has to happen on the court, field or sand, but this many new coaches brings an eye to the programs they took over and a want to see them succeed is higher.
Good luck to all the new coaches and the coaches that are in place.
This athletic year is shaping up to be exciting.