Lakeside's search for a new athletics director and football coach came to an end last week.
The Columbia County Board of Education approved the hiring of Jody Grooms in a meeting on Tuesday.
Lakeside principal Jeff Carney said the approval ended a long and exhaustive search.
"We were pleasantly surprised by the number of people who applied," he said. "We had 34 people apply."
Carney said 23 applicants lived in Georgia while the others came from South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas.
A committee sorted through the applications.
"We had a committee of seven people - three parents, two teachers, one of my assistant principals and myself," Carney said. "We sorted through the 34 resumes and whittled it down to 10 finalists."
After individual interviews, Carney said each committee member ranked the applicants in seven or eight areas that extended beyond football.
"There was a 5-point scale," he said. "We each ranked them, and I plugged them in to an Excel sheet. The No. 1 candidate was No. 1 for all seven people. So he came across really strong."
Grooms, who spent the previous four years coaching football and teaching social studies at Anson High School in Wadesboro, N.C., will take over the Lakeside athletics program in the fall.
Under Grooms' leadership, the Anson football team went 10-4 in 2006 and reached the state quarterfinals. Lakeside's football team hasn't had a winning record since 2000.
"He has experience turning around a football program into a winning program. That meant a lot," Carney said. "He's coming from an area that, despite limited resources, he's had success."
Anson High School, with an enrollment of just more than 1,200 students, is a Class AAA school in North Carolina.
The year before Grooms took over, Anson went 2-9 on the season. The team went 3-9 in its first year under Grooms but has since posted a 26-14 record.
Before becoming Anson's head football coach, Grooms spent three years as head football coach at Central Cabarrus High School in Concord, N.C.
Carney said much of last fall's Lakeside football coaching staff, including coach Randy Hill, will most likely remain as part of the team.
"Coach Grooms is not going to have a problem with that," Carney said. "He's going to want to use as much of our staff as we have because he can't bring in his whole coaching staff."
Hill said on Wednesday he had yet to decide whether he will remain at Lakeside after this school year.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.