Northern, Southern name new athletic directors

Aug. 19, 2014 @ 09:29 PM

Northern Vance and Southern Vance each entered fall sports with new athletic directors.

Jeff Tate succeeded Jeff Arthurs at Northern and Joe Sharrow is serving in an interim role for Southern following David Jennings’ departure.

Arthurs resigned after less than a year as athletic director, leaving to take a teaching position at Carrboro High School and Jennings has joined Franklinton High School’s football team as an assistant coach.

Arthurs assumed David Hicks’ duties when the longtime Northern athletic director retired last fall.

Sharrow is Southern’s third athletic director since Ed Wilson retired in 2012.

Arthurs taught at Northern for eight years and coached the boys and girls tennis programs for six years.

“I enjoyed it tremendously,” said Arthurs. “Great kids, great parents. Couldn’t have asked for more. I think we had a good program going, great support. It was very hard to leave.”

Lauren Bryan of Jacksonville replaced Arthurs as the girls tennis coach and will also lead the Vikings’ softball program.

Tate served as Kerr-Vance Academy’s athletic director for one year before the position was eliminated in May.

Tate led Northern to five conference titles in his decade-long tenure as the Vikings’ baseball coach in addition to serving as an assistant football coach.

Following his time at Northern, Tate had a short stint as a KVA baseball assistant before leading J.F. Webb’s baseball team to five state playoff appearances from 2006-12.

Vikings’ head baseball coach Benji Nelson played for Tate at Northern before serving as his assistant coach. Tate and Northern head football coach Eric Watkins grew up playing sports together and were Vance High basketball and football teammates.

“It’s good to be back here,” said Tate. “I’ve seen a lot of faces that I know and some new people, too. I’m excited about it. It’s definitely going to be a challenge.”

Tate said an emphasis will be placed on academics and increasing participation in each sport. Northern has struggled to field junior varsity football teams the last few seasons and the Vikings’ 2014 softball season was suspended when the team no longer had the numbers to compete.

“The decisions I make aren’t going to make everybody happy,” said Tate. “As long as I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I’m doing the right thing — and that’s what I want my coaches to do. I want them to do what’s best for the kids and the team.”

Sharrow hails from Traverse City, Michigan and has coached and taught at Southern for three years.

Sharrow anticipated continuing his role as junior varsity head football coach prior to accepting the athletic director position. The Michigan State University graduate has also been an assistant baseball and varsity football coach at Southern.

“I think Dave Jennings did a really good job,” said Sharrow, “and I kind of just want to pick up where he left off and keep everything running smooth, try to make sure that our athletic department is as successful as it can be.”

Jennings found success as a Southern football coach, serving as an assistant coach from 1999-2002 before taking the reigns of the program. The Pennsylvania native compiled a 44-14 record as head coach, guiding the Raiders to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2-AA state championship game in 2006.

Jennings, who will coach the Red Rams’ offensive and defensive lines, was “allured by change” and said he was eager to get back on the sidelines before thanking the Vance County Schools superintendent and Southern principal, respectively.

“I have an opportunity to try something new and really just want to try to see how I do coaching again,” said Jennings. “I’m very honored to have had the opportunity to teach and coach in Vance County for 14 years. It was definitely the most rewarding professional experience I’ve ever had. I appreciate all that Ronald Gregory and Stephanie Ayscue have done for me.”

Southern and Franklinton each compete in the 2-A Northern Carolina Conference and are scheduled to meet in football Friday, Nov. 7 at Southern.

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.