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Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

Dement gets dream job of coaching alma mater

Sunday, January 18, 2004

(Photo)
Jerry Dement
SIKESTON - Everybody has dreams.

Some may want to be an astronaut. Some may want to play in the NBA.

Jerry Dement wanted to coach football for the Sikeston Bulldogs.

Dement will get his chance starting in the 2004 season as he was hired last week to become the school's 22nd head coach, replacing longtime leader Charlie Vickery.

Dement, 46, was born and raised in Sikeston and graduated from the high school in 1975.

He's spent 25 years coaching, 15 of it in Sikeston as an assistant football coach and the head track and field coach.

But during all that time, his one goal was to one day be the head football coach for the Bulldogs.

"Getting this football job has been a dream of mine and a goal of mine," said Dement. "I feel fortunate to realize that dream and attain that goal. It's something I've been looking forward to. I appreciate the faith put in me by the administration of Sikeston High School. I'm going to do the best I possibly can for the kids and the community and the school system."

Dement spent 10 years away from Sikeston in an effort to get some head coach experience.

While at Malden, Dement had a record of 30-12, including a 10-2 season in 1992 where the Green Wave reached the quarterfinals before falling to eventual state champion John Burroughs 9-6 in overtime.

It still ranks as one of the greatest teams in Malden's history.

At Cape Central, Dement compiled a record of 31-29, leading the Tigers to their first seven-win season since 1989 when they went 7-3 in 1997.

Dement resigned from Cape Central after the 1998 season and returned to Sikeston as an assistant.

It was all part of his master plan.

"The only reason I ever left Sikeston was to go out and prepare for myself for this position," said Dement. "I felt like if I had been an assistant for all these years, I probably wouldn't have been adequately prepared. I've had the head coach position at two different places at different levels. And I think that's helped prepare me to lead this program. That's the only reason I left my community. Kind of like a good dog -- he may wonder off the path, but eventually he returns home."

Vickery, who stepped down in November after 26 years of coaching the Bulldogs, said Dement is the perfect hire for the school.

"I think that was the only choice to be made," said Vickery. "He's an excellent choice. He and I worked together for 15 years and he has been a very loyal assistant. Obviously he's shown that he can run any type of program and be very successful in doing it. I think he was the obvious choice and to me he was the only pick."

Dement says following in the footsteps of Vickery, who is the school's all-time winningest coach, will be no small task.

"I know I have big shoes to fill and I'm honored to do that," said Dement. "Not only am I following a very well-respected, successful coach, I'm doing it in front of everybody I know. That lets me know that I better do things right and to continue what we've been doing here. I'm pleased to follow Charlie. I feel fortunate that I was able to coach under him. Now it's my turn to do things exactly the way I want to do them."

Under Vickery's watch, the Bulldogs produced numerous all-staters, but in particular they always had great running backs as his offense was run-heavy.

What kind of offense can the fans expect to see next fall? Dement decided to take the high-road on that question.

"It's really probably too early to tell people that," he said. "Any high school coach is going to try to play to the talents of the kids available to him. We're going to try to do what it takes to be successful. I can't tell you right now whether we're going to run it every down or throw it every down. Philosophy-wise, you like to be balanced. Everybody likes you to throw the ball nowadays. But we're going to do what our kids can do and what we can teach them to do best."

Dement wouldn't predict how many games his teams will win or whether or not his teams will win championships, but he does promise several other things.

"The first thing is I want to maintain the tradition we have as strong, competitive teams," said Dement. "Our goals are to get a lot of kids involved and get their families and the community involved. We want to make it entertaining for the fans, but also represent the community and the school district as well as possible. High standards have been set here and I'm going to try to maintain those and possibly improve on those."

In addition to being the head football coach, Dement will resume his duties as the track and field coach as well as teaching at the high school. In track, Dement has built the Bulldogs into one of the premier programs in the area and a perennial state contender. His track teams have won three straight Class 3, District 1 championships and they are expected to be strong once again this spring. Dement his hoping to get a direct correlation between track and field and football.

"I love both sports and enjoy coaching both," he said. "I think they both play off of each other. We've got a good program going where our kids expect to win in track. It gives me something to do in the spring and it's another way to come in contact with our students and athletes."

Also with Vickery's retirement, the school needed to find a new athletic director. They eventually chose Brent Keefer, a hire that Dement was pleased with.

"I'm very pleased to now have the opportunity to work with Brent Keefer, a guy I coached two sports with," said Dement. "He's a true Sikeston person, born and raised here like me. He is a strong supporter for not only athletics, but all our programs. I think he's ideal for the job. I think things are really looking good for Sikeston's athletics."

When Vickery was hired in 1978, school administrators called him a "people person."

Now, 26 years later, he says the school hasn't changed its stance.

"When you get into high school, it's a people business and he's a people person," said Vickery of Dement. "He's very good with kids and he's got the best interest of kids at heart. That's the main thing. But he's also very skillful at the technical aspects of football and the X's and O's. I think he'll do a wonderful job."