The Lakeside School, which has been playing at the Class AA level in Alabama Independent School athletics, is expecting to drop to Class A when the AISA announces its reclassification next month.
Regardless, Lakeside athletics are under new leadership as Josh McConnell took over as the Chiefs’ athletic director on Dec. 9. Tom Clements announced he would be returning to work at Eufaula business Tessenderlo Kerley.
Clements will remain as the school’s boys’ basketball coach through the end of the season.
McConnell was hired last year as the Chiefs’ football coach, coming over from Glenwood School at Smiths Station.
Lakeside has been at Class AA since the 2014-15 school year.
“Tom has got to do what’s best for his family,” McConnell said. “My duties will be making sure that, as a football coach, to realize there has to be an emphasis on softball, baseball, basketball, volleyball; not just what’s going on in the football program. We want to make all of the teams successful.”
As a football coach, McConnell cannot make out his 2020 schedule until the AISA announces its reclassification.
The new AD has new ideas to add to the school’s overall athletic program.
“We’re hoping to add a track team, potentially even this year,” McConnell said. “We’re also looking at getting a band started. We’re trying to create an atmosphere for everybody in school to be involved. We want to create a place where something is going on all the time and create a better feel of school pride.
“I think this is a really excellent time. We are getting a brand new, all-sports locker room that attaches to the gymnasium. Girls’ sports are really in a good spot and our boys are trending in the right direction. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Tom did everything up to this point. I came from a different school. The big thing is to grow the athletic department. We are getting better, but there’s always room for growth. I have new ideas. The biggest thing right now is there are (coaching) vacancies that need to be filled. I am helping (coaching) with all sports. I’m always looking for good people. At the end of the day, you want to surround yourself with good people.”
Currently, Lakeside offers football, boys and girls basketball, baseball (state champs in 2019), softball, volleyball, golf, girls tennis and cheerleading. There is also a vacancy for the volleyball coaching position.
“We want to have more people involved with the athletic programs,” McConnell said. “That’s an area in the athletic department where I can add to and get more people involved. The percentage of students we have playing sports is right in line with the other schools. We’re not that far off. (Boys’) Basketball has been really good. They beat the number one team in the state again this season. The ceiling is really high for girls’ basketball. The JV girls are 9-1 at the moment. The future is bright, but there’s always room for improvement.”
Clements has been with the Chiefs for 13 seasons.
“Tom has given the school everything he’s had and there is a great foundation in place,” McConnell said. “He’s a great person and a great human being. We’ve created a friendship.”