A decade ago, Logan Dunlap wore G.W. Long’s red and black.
Next year, he will wear the purple and gold colors of Long’s rival, Ariton.
Dunlap, a 2007 G.W. Long graduate who played baseball for both Earl Miller and Drew Miller, was hired as the new head baseball coach of the Purple Cats. He replaces Jonnathan Valdez, who resigned after two seasons.
Dunlap has seven years of coaching experience, including two years as head coach at Northside Methodist Academy. He also has had assistant roles at G.W. Long and Enterprise.
He is one of two new hires at Ariton. Haley Goodson takes over as the Purple Cats’ softball coach after Jerry Goodson, her uncle, retired. Haley Goodson was an assistant the last two seasons.
“I am excited,” Dunlap said of the baseball job. “It happened pretty quickly, but I am excited. I am very honored to take over the program. It is a program that is heading in the right direction. They have made the third round of the state playoffs the last two years. We are looking to build on that and to try and create a championship culture at Ariton.”
In an interesting twist, Dunlap will have to face Long and younger brother, Carson, a rising junior for the G.W. Long baseball team, next season.
The younger Dunlap gave his blessing for his sibling to take the job.
“He told me, ‘Hey, a good job is a good job. It doesn’t matter what your colors are,’” Logan Dunlap said. “I am excited about it and I think he is excited about it too. It adds an interesting layer to the rivalry for next year. It will be fun.”
Logan Dunlap, though, noted the two brothers will be fierce competitors when they meet next spring.
“At the end of the day when we step on the field, he will be trying to beat his brother and I will try to beat him,” Dunlap said. “He will be trying to win the baseball game. I will be trying to win the ball game. We are both competitors.”
The new coach also has ties to his new school at Ariton.
“My wife (Leslie Peters) graduated from there, my sister-in-law graduated from there, my mother-in-low works there, so there are some ties,” Dunlap said. “I am excited and honored to take over.”
After graduating from G.W. Long, Dunlap signed with Faulkner University but transferred to Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City.
He began his coaching career as an assistant coach with Sam Cochran at Northside Methodist in 2010 before taking over the program for two seasons.
After his head coaching gig at NMA, he was an assistant coach at Long under Drew Miller for two seasons and spent two seasons as pitching coach at Enterprise under Rick Pruitt.
He got out of coaching as he and his wife moved to Birmingham, but now returns after a year and a half out.
Dunlap said Ariton fans can expect a “hard-nosed” and “aggressive” Purple Cat team under his watch, one that has to rise above G.W. Long’s reputation right down the road.
“We will be hard-nosed, we will be aggressive, we will pitch really well and we will play defense really well,” Dunlap said. “We will be aggressive and we will try to develop that killer instinct mentality that we need to win championships.
“The most important thing is we can’t worry about what everybody else is doing. We can’t worry about what G.W. Long is doing – they have it figured out up there. We have to worry about us.
“We have to worry about being the best we can be every single day. We have to show up every day with the sole purpose of being the best we can be that day. If we can control our attitude and our effort, we will be able to live with the results.”
Most importantly, Dunlap said, was developing “better men.”
“We want to not only develop better ball players, but better men that one day will be better fathers, better workers, better employees – just better overall people,” Dunlap said.
Joining Dunlap on Ariton’s baseball staff is Steve Laney, who is returning to coaching after a long layoff. Laney, who has been the Purple Cats’ athletic director, was head coach of the program’s football and baseball programs in 1999-2000. Wes Alums, a longtime assistant, will also be on staff.
“Both are Ariton through and through, so I am happy to have both of those guys there to help show me the ropes as far as Ariton goes,” Dunlap said.
Goodson takes over softball reins
Ariton has handed over the head softball coaching duties to Haley Goodson, a 2012 Ariton graduate who earned Dothan Eagle honors as both a sophomore and senior.
She has served as assistant coach the last two seasons to her uncle, Jerry Goodson, a longtime coach of the program.
“I am super excited and I hope the girls are excited,” Haley Goodson said. “We will try some new things (practices/drills) and see where that takes us. I am really excited about it.”
Goodson said taking over her alma mater is a big thrill to her.
“It’s awesome,” Goodson said. “I love Ariton. I just think it is a great school. Jerry has done a great job of building up the program and I am excited he is giving me an opportunity to take over for him.
“I know how much fun I had playing there and how we became successful from there. I hope we can do that again.”
After her career at Ariton, Goodson played collegiately at Northwest Florida State College and at Georgia Southwestern.
Helping Haley Goodson will be Terry Goodson, her father. The two will continue, as they have the last two years, to coach together in volleyball with Terry Goodson as the head coach.
In addition to her coaching duties, Haley Goodson will remain as a fourth-grade elementary school teacher at Ariton.