Coach Strickland bids farewell to Chambers County

Published 11:26 am Friday, June 21, 2024

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Goodbyes are always hard, but they are also often necessary. Former Valley coach David Strickland said one of the hardest goodbyes of his career as he decided to bid farewell to Chambers County. 

Strickland graduated from Beulah as a star baseball and football player. Strickland then attended Wallace State Community College before transferring to Point University to play football. 

Earlier this year, Strickland was inducted into Point’s Hall of Fame as a punter. He was the only football player inducted into the inaugural class. Strickland was the head coach for Springwood’s baseball team and an assistant coach for the football team after he graduated, and he has spent the past three years working in the Chambers County School District. 

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The Valley area has always been home for Strickland, but now he is set to leave after accepting a head coach position with Flomaton High School’s baseball team. 

Strickland has known that this move would eventually come, but earning his Master’s degree in December made now the right time. His wife is from Pensacola and her family lives in the area. Strickland’s family no longer lives in the Valley area. He and his wife wanted to look at starting a family, and that meant that a move from his beloved home was bound to happen. 

“Her family is from down there,” Strickland said. “I’m from the Valley, but my family is not in the Valley anymore…We knew if we wanted to start looking at having a family with our schedules not matching up either. If we wanted to have kids, we probably needed to be somewhere where we had more support in the area. Her family being down there just made more sense. We’ve had that talk for four years, it was just when?” 

Strickland was contacted about a job with Flomaton during the second round of the playoffs, but it was not a head coaching position at the time. He originally accepted a job with Theodore High School before the Flomaton position came open. 

A month after the job became available, Strickland had a conversation with an administrator and quickly became the new head coach. He had wanted to get back into a head coaching role since he left Springwood, and Strickland felt like this was the perfect opportunity. 

“I wanted to get back into a head job,” Strickland said. “I just wanted to go somewhere where I felt like my vision would work in the program. With Flomaton, I felt like they have a good baseball history there. They have a town that’s very supportive of their school and their sports programs. I just felt like with the vision that I had, that school would be a good fit for me.” 

Getting the head coaching job at Flomaton was a dream situation for Strickland, but it did not make leaving Valley any easier. Over the years, Strickland had built a strong relationship with each of the coaches and players. 

Strickland also wanted to wait until after the playoffs to inform the kids of his departure. With every round that Valley advanced, the end felt that much closer for him. 

“It was really tough. I knew at the end of the year we were going to make a transition,” Strickland said. “I used to tell our head coach Mike Meadows, every round of the playoffs I would tell him that I don’t want it to be over because at some point I have to tell those kids. It’s hard telling those kids that you love and care for that you’re going to move on and do something else.” 

“I felt like we had good kids in our program,” Strickland added. “When you coach kids for a year or three years, you get close with them. It was hard telling those kids goodbye.” 

In Strickland’s last season, the Rams went on one of the deepest runs in school history. Valley made the semifinals for just the fourth time in school history last season. 

During that run, some of Valley’s players etched their names into the history books of the school. Strickland will most remember all the moments and memories he made with the players and coaches during that season. 

“I was very grateful to work with a great staff, with coach Mike, Coach Ryan [Meadows] and coach [Jerome] Sanders,” Strickland said. “Those are great guys and great coaches that I’ve learned a lot from.” 

“It’s just those memories that you make with those coaches and those kids that go a long way,” Strickland added.

Valley has influenced Strickland in a big way. His coaching philosophy has not changed much over the years though. He believes that you have to love the kids while also pushing them to be more than they ever thought possible. 

“It’s a lot of the same deal. I want to coach our kids hard, but I also want them to know that at the end of the day, I love and care for them,” Strickland said. “They’re going to get done playing high school sports. They may play at the next level, which is great, but some may not. At the end of the day, coach them hard, love them but also try to make those kids into good young men as well.” 

Strickland will solely coach baseball at Flomaton High School. He wants to focus on building up the baseball program, and Strickland is already gearing up to start preparing his team in the fall. 

“If we want to do things the right way, in public school, you get a fall that you can spend with your kids,” Strickland said. “I felt like, the sooner we get with those kids down there and they learn my system and learn me the better. I felt like the fall was going to be important with that program down there.”