More and more Warren County High School sports programs are being guided by former Pioneer and Lady Pioneer players. I think this is a smart move.
August Palombo became the latest member of this elite group when it was announced on Monday he is the new soccer coach for the WCHS boys team. He follows Matt Jackson who guided Pioneer soccer for four seasons.
Coaches who once played for the Pioneers have a unique perspective into what it takes to take classes and play a sport at WCHS. They can tell players they have walked in their shoes.
These Warren County coaches know what it’s like to be in that same locker room, to roam those same halls as a student, and to have the same outside distractions like a girlfriend, pickup, or job.
The arrangement has worked out well in recent years. WCHS boys basketball coach Chris Sullens has over 100 wins during what has become a lengthy, perhaps even legendary, career leading the Pioneers.
Sullens was known for his scrappiness as a Pioneer basketball player and that same type of mentality has rubbed off on his teams. The Pioneers have won the district tournament title the past two years and made it one win from the state tournament during a deep tournament run in March.
WCHS football coach Matt Turner grew up playing football in this community. His junior and senior years at the high school were under the drill-sergeant leadership of coach Sid Fritts, who liked to field a physical team.
One of the things easy to notice about coach Turner is his chemistry with the players. He works them hard but treats them well and that cultivates a healthy level of respect. I’ve found players generally like to be held to high levels of accountability and it no doubt helps the finished product.
Lady Pioneer volleyball coach Erin Blalock played under longtime coach Franklin Fisher. She seemed to have Warren County volleyball pointed in the right direction during her inaugural season as head coach last year and is preparing to enter year two next month.
Phillip King, a former Pioneer baseball player, had his first year over the program cut short just a handful of games into his inaugural season due to COVID. His second year proved to be a winner as the Pioneers tied for first in the district during the regular season.
One thing that’s noteworthy about coach King is his commitment to honoring the history of Pioneer baseball and doing things as a coach he appreciated when he was a player here.
August Palombo will be a nice fit at the helm of Warren County soccer. Job one, as I see it, will be increasing participation as the Pioneers were down to starters and just a few subs at the end of last year.