By TED RADICK
VANLUE — By a 5-0 vote Monday, the Vanlue Local School Board of Education voted to retain Chris Yeater as the school’s football coach for the 2014 season.
Yeater’s job had been in jeopardy after Superintendent Rod Russell had initially indicated he wouldn’t recommend Yeater for rehire.
Monday’s board vote came after Russell changed his recommendation to favor bringing Yeater back for another season.
“I support the decision to hire Chris Yeater as the football coach at Vanlue,” Russell said after Monday’s meeting.
Another large contingent of district residents, Vanlue students and football parents attended Monday’s meeting, on the heels of a well-attended December board meeting where several spoke in favor of retaining Yeater.
“We were very pleased with the input from the community and support that was shown,” said board member Eric Hausserman, who was elected school board president at Monday’s meeting. “I think it says a lot for coach Yeater. The board is behind coach, and we’re going to help him put a good team on the football field.”
Russell acknowledged the Vanlue community’s support of Yeater, and the interest in school board matters by district residents in general.
“Absolutely, and I support Chris in this position,” he said.
Yeater, 4-36 in four years a the helm at Vanlue, said he was pleased by the board’s vote.
“Thank God the school board listened to the public, and I think they kind of got an eye-opener as to what the staff and I do for the kids,” he said. “It’s stuff we can continue to do for at least one more year.”
Yeater had a meeting early Monday with Vanlue Principal Traci Conley, Athletic Director Greg Thomas and some members of the school board. With no quorum of board members present, the meeting was private but Yeater said it was productive.
“Anytime you open up the communication lines, you can work things out,” he said. “In the end, I think everyone was in agreement with everything.
“We did something like this last year, where the school board and I kind of sat down and met. They want to know how I feel about the program, and of course they have questions. Of course they can’t be at every practice, so it’s good when you get that chance to sit down and talk. It’s good for me and it’s good for them as well. They get a chance to see exactly what you’re trying to do.”
Next on the agenda for Yeater is improving the results on the football field. Vanlue was 0-10 last season and saw its lone victory in 2012 erased by forfeit for using an ineligible player.
Yeater said winter lifting workouts are going well.
“I think maybe the biggest reason it’s going well is that, you know, we had a pretty rough year last year,” he said. “Prior to that, we didn’t have a really good offseason. I think the kids understand that if they don’t make the commitment year-round, you’re going to get the results of what you put into it. You won’t be competitive.
“I don’t feel the pressure to get any certain number of wins, but we definitely need to improve. We need to at least get to a level of play where we’re competitive with some of these teams.
“That’s something, when the season finished up last year we sat down and talked to the kids. Probably half the games, there’s no reason we can’t be competitive in those. That’s what we want to see, first to be competitive and then maybe we can get a couple ‘Ws.’”
Thirty students have signed up for football for the coming season. Yeater knows 30 in the winter doesn’t mean 30 on the field in heat of August two-a-day practices, but it is a solid sign of interest in the program among the students.
“Right now, we’d like to set up a meeting with all the parents,” he said. “We had an excellent sign-up for football, but we’d like a meeting to make sure the parents know of the commitment. Your kid signed up, let’s hold them accountable for it. Let’s make sure they stick with it.”
Yeater thanked the Vanlue community for its support.
“Those people, I run into them all the time, and I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done,” he said. “It makes me feel good, and it’s not just me. It’s the whole staff.
“I’ve always asked other coaches for advice, and I think maybe the best advice came from (Riverdale head coach) Jeremy Kloepfer. He told me, ‘Always do what you think is right. Do what’s best for the kids.’
“You do the right thing, and things will work out in the end. Of course, that’s something you want to teach the kids as well.”
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