Tom Holodak says he got his man.After months of waiting, including a fruitless initial interview process, the Augusta Prep athletic director found someone in Harry Bacheller who fits the mold set from the beginning.
Holodak wanted someone with the patience and personality suited for building a program from scratch. Bacheller, the athletic director at Christ the King (K-8) and an assistant coach at St. Pius High School in Atlanta, is familiar with start-up programs.
He has the experience of working with both middle-school and high-school programs. Augusta Prep will probably start with a middle-school program and expand to junior varsity and varsity in the coming years.
Holodak said Bacheller could coach a year or two at the middle school level, then leave one of his assistants in charge while he takes the reins of the junior varsity or varsity team.
"I think it's important to have somebody who can work with those younger ones and get his program set the way he wants and his system in place along with his staff," Holodak said. "It's going to be probably a five-year plan before we get to that level."
Bacheller doesn't mind the wait.
After St. Pius struggled its first two seasons, Bacheller said he came in and helped institute a weight program. The team finished 5-5 the next season and has been a regular in the playoffs since. St. Pius has reached the postseason five of the past six seasons and last week was 4-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state.
"It's paid off," Bacheller said. "A lot of the hard work has paid off."
Bacheller said he heard of Augusta Prep's opening last year through a St. Pius family that was friends with one from Augusta Prep. At the time, he didn't want to shake up the situation he had at St. Pius.
But the subject was brought up again and Bacheller, an Atlanta native, decided he'd had enough of the traffic and could use a change of scenery. One of his children had just graduated Marist. Another will graduate from St. Pius this year. And his daughter will be starting high school next fall.
"Everything fell into place," Bacheller said. "I like it over there. It seems like the students and the faculty and staff is excited and football-hungry."
Bacheller and Holodak will meet a couple times a month, with the first meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
He expects to help with St. Pius' "spring" practice in January and to start at Augusta Prep in May. His initial agenda will include instituting a weight program and running spring practice.
The Cavaliers will play their games on what is now the soccer field. All that's left is to set up opponents and buy equipment.
Holodak said he's already heard from schools wanting to schedule Augusta Prep in 2009. He said the school's initial season could be a full or partial schedule depending on the level of participation.
Holodak planned to send letters to parents announcing the school's hire.
"We're letting everybody know we got football now," Holodak said. "And here's our coach and he's coming in (Oct. 1)."
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