STARKVILLE — A familiar face was back at Starkville High School on Wednesday.
In three weeks, that same face will be back in a dugout as the leader of the school’s baseball program.
On Tuesday night, the Starkville School Board approved the recommendation of Starkville High School Athletic Director Dr. Stan Miller that Danny Carlisle be brought back as the school’s baseball coach.
That decision paved the way for Carlisle to return to Starkville High a little more than three months after he retired from his teaching position at the school. It also will allow Carlisle to return to the field for his 29th and final season as head coach of the Starkville High baseball program.
“I appreciate the administration and the school board giving me the opportunity,” Carlisle said when asked how it felt to be back as the school’s coach. He had said earlier in the week that he wanted to return but wasn’t sure how the school board would vote.
Miller presented several options to the school board, including one that would not have allowed Carlisle to come back. But Miller said he recommended Carlisle return as teacher and as a coach in part because it would allow for a seamless transition from one coach to the next.
“Danny Carlisle has done a great job for us for more than 30 years, and I am excited he is coming back for this his final season,” Miller said. “What I am looking for on a resume is a proven winner and a man who builds a feeder system. That is the key. He has to have a great rapport with our community and building our booster club.”
Miller said he plans to advertise for the coaching position next month in an attempt to find a replacement for Carlisle to begin the 2012-13 school year.
Carlisle, who retired Sept. 30, 2011, will work as a teacher in an advanced fitness class. According to state law, he will be allowed to coach “for a period of time in any fiscal year sufficient in length to permit a retiree to earn not in excess of 25 percent of the retiree’s average compensation.”
The timing of the decision is ideal for Carlisle, who was at the District IV baseball umpires meeting Wednesday night at Armstrong Middle School. The Mississippi High School Activities Association doesn’t allow its member schools to officially start practice until Feb. 1. Scrimmages are allowed to start Feb. 18, classic games are allowed to start Feb. 24, and teams are permitted to play their first games Feb. 27.
Carlisle said it “feels like yesterday” that he started coaching, except for the fact he sometimes is bothered by an aching knee. He said he is excited about being back as coach and as a teacher, and that he feels the Yellow Jackets have a chance to be “pretty decent” even though they will be young and they have had some new players transfer into the program.
“It is fun,” Carlisle said “The thing is I like being around young people because young people keep you young.”
Carlisle, The Clarion-Ledger Coach of the Year in 1986 and 1991, has won more than 500 games in 28 seasons as head coach at Starkville. He led Starkville to a 9-12 record (2-7 in Class 6A, Region 2) in 2011. Starkville had a chance to make the playoffs into the final week of the regular season before it lost to South Panola 14-13. The Yellow Jackets led 13-6 entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.