Alex Sanford calls it a “huge opportunity.”
That “huge opportunity” is his new role as the head baseball coach of the newly consolidated Dothan High Wolves.
Sanford, Northview’s head coach the last two years and a three-year assistant at the school prior to that, was named the new coach by the Dothan City School Board Thursday afternoon during a special called meeting at Beverlye Middle School.
Sanford will guide the new Dothan High, which opens in August after the consolidation of Northview and the old Dothan High School. The program will compete one year in Class 6A before likely jumping up to the state’s highest classification of Class 7A following AHSAA reclassification.
“It is a huge opportunity with the combination of the two schools, getting to combine two schools which have been competing against each other for years and years and players who have even been playing each other in the youth leagues,” Sanford said. “You are consolidating them and you are going to get to compete at the highest level. That is a major opportunity obviously going from 6A to 7A. We are not shying away from the competition.”
Sanford guided Northview the last two years to a 32-34 record, but both teams went to the state playoffs and the team improved from his first to second season. This past year, during his second season, the Cougars went 19-14 and advanced to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
While he will be guiding a new team next spring, Sanford sees promise.
“A lot of people think we will be building, but I don’t think we are building anything. I think it will be more of a grooming phase,” Sanford said. “There is talent at both schools. Now, I have to get them to buy in and trust me and my hope-to-be staff when I get that sorted out. That is the first thing we have to do – establish a sense of trust.”
Dothan principal Bill Singleton feels the sky is the limit for the new Wolves coach and boldly predicts big things.
“Coach Sanford has been coaching for two years and in his second year, he was able to go two rounds of the playoffs and won the area. That is quite an accomplishment for a second-year coach,” Singleton said. “I think he will do a great job as we move into the Class 7A status. I’m going to step out on a limb because I have seen his talents and abilities and I think we might just make it to the final game this year.”
Prior to his head coaching role at Northview, Sanford was an assistant with the Cougars for three seasons under Jonathan Rasberry when NHS won 80 games and made three state playoffs appearances.
A 2005 graduate of Prattville High School, Sanford played at Huntingdon College as a pitcher. He was a volunteer/graduate assist ant at Huntingdon before getting out of coaching one year while teaching at Wilson Elementary in Montgomery.
He and his wife, Jessica, moved to Dothan and he eventually landed the assistant job with Rasberry at Northview.
Sanford will have to start from scratch on a coaching staff next spring after the departure of his previous assistants Micah Turner (now head coach at Geneva County) and William Garner (head strength coach at Charles Henderson).
There will also be a lot of logistical challenges, he noted, including organizing the middle school and JV teams as well varsity teams, starting with a first meeting.
Making it hard, though, is the summer period when players are scattered at multiple places with travel ball teams. He said it might be on the first day of school in August when things get more organized.
One of his big messages whenever that first opportunity comes will be about unity.
“There is no more rivalry,” Sanford said. “We are one school now. We are one town now. We are playing for one group of people.”