With the pending retirement of Weatherford Kangaroos football coach Weldon Nelms, Weatherford School District Athletic Director Richard Scoggin said the search has begun for his replacement.
"We, of course, have posted it. We'll see what's out there," he said. "We're not going to just sit back and let it come to us."
Scoggin said his office will take a more intense look at applications and resumes upon returning from the holiday break. He said he would like to have a new coach in place by early February.
"We're looking for the best possible candidate for Weatherford, one to continue teaching these young men the right things," Scoggin said. "We brought one in four years ago who fit our needs.
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"Our record didn't go the way we wanted, but he (Nelms) did a lot to improve the culture of our program."
Nelms announced his retirement recently after 37 years. The 60-year-old has had some recent health problems that required surgery to help him walk. During his career he won two Class 3A state championships at Wimberley in 2005 and 2011, both teams going 15-0.
In his four seasons at Weatherford, the Kangaroos were 11-29. Their 2015 team finished 5-5 and missed reaching the playoffs in the final game of the season. It was their first non-losing season since 2009.
For his career, Nelms posted a 249-140-3 record in 33 seasons as a head coach. His teams reached the playoffs 23 times. Along with two state titles, his teams reached two semifinals (1993, 2010), three quarterfinals (1988, 2006, 2009), four regionals finals (1989, 1998-99, 2007) and won 13 district championships.
Nelms won the President Gerald R. Ford All-American High School Coach Award in 2005, was named a Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Coach in 2008, was an Oil Bowl All-Star Coach in 2014, and received the 2012-13 University Interscholastic League Sponsor Excellence Award.
But as much as Nelms was popular for winning, he also grew in popularity for his ability to inspire players. He said he takes more pride in this than any of his many victories.
"I tried to make a difference. I tried every day to be a positive role model for my students," he said.
"It was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make, but unfortunately I cannot physically continue to coach the game I love. I want to thank the Weatherford community for supporting me through my last years as a coach. It's been an honor to coach the Kangaroos."
In 2015, when the Kangaroos played a home game on the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Nelms had his team's helmets wrapped in an American flag design.
"I interviewed Coach Nelms every week during the football season, and it didn't take long to realize this guy is special," said Brent Baker, who called the Kangaroos' football games on Chuck FM 89.5.
"Weldon Nelms is a great coach and a great man who taught our students so much more than football," said Weatherford Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Hanks.
Nelms remains a hero in Wimberley and achieved similar status in his short time in Weatherford, including with Scoggin, whose son Tyler played for Nelms for three seasons.
"I attribute a lot of Tyler's success and work ethic to Coach Nelms and his staff," Scoggin said. "They were teaching an extension of what we were teaching at home."
Tyler Scoggin is now part of the program at Mary Hardin-Baylor, which was playing Wisconsin-Osh Kosh in the Stagg Bowl for the NCAA Division III championship at press time.
Weatherford is a Class 6A program, but Scoggin said there are no class limitations on candidates for the job. He also said the position is open to any current assistant coaches who want to apply.
"If there are people on staff interested they'll be considered just like anyone from the outside," he said. "We just want the best one for the job."