NEW MADRID -- New Madrid County Central assistant boys basketball coach David Fields has been elevated to the position of head coach for one of the premier programs in the state.
Fields, who came to the school this year from Mayfield, Ky., replaces Joby Holland who will be the school's principal next year.
"Anytime you get to take over a program such as this, you've got to be ecstatic," said Fields. "Being my first head coaching job, I couldn't be more thrilled."
In his one year with the NMCC program, Fields' freshmen and junior varsity teams had a combined record of 22 wins and five losses. In commenting on Fields' elevation to head coach, NMCC superintendent Mike Barnes stated that he is glad that things worked out the way they have.
"When Coach (Lennies) McFerren told me last year that he wished to step down, we immediately began a search for his successor," explained Barnes. "We received a limited number of applications from qualified candidates and narrowed our choices down to three, who the board interviewed separately."
"At the conclusion of that process, the board decided that Coach Holland was the best fit for the team they knew was coming back this year. Coach Fields ranked just behind Coach Holland in the board's mind. The determining factor was that, given his familiarity with the system and his background as a head coach, Coach Holland was the best fit in the short term. When he accepted the job, Holland told the board that his tenure as head coach would be short-lived. His stated intentions were to coach for a year or two and to hopefully return to administration on a full-time basis -- which he has now done."
"We were fortunate, I believe, to convince David to come on board this year with assurance that he might still have a future with the district as a head coach -- even if that future was two or three years down the road. He's come in as the jayvee and freshmen coach and done everything that we had hoped he would do. Now, the board has given him the opportunity that was very nearly his one year ago."
Fields was also satisfied with how the unique situation turned out.
"It worked out as good as it could," said Fields. "When I came over here, nothing was promised to me. It was just an assistant coaches position. When I found out (Holland) was stepping down, of course I threw my name in the hat and everything went from there."
Fields, 28, graduated from Murray State University in 1998. "I just want to keep it going," he said. "The program is there, it speaks for itself. I've been all over Missouri throwing out the name of New Madrid, and people know us for what has been accomplished here. I just want to continue that."
The man Fields is replacing, Holland, had this to say about his successor: "David is a solid basketball person and a fine man. I wanted the position to succeed Coach McFerren in order to continue with his work and to provide stability for our returning group of seniors. After working with David this year, had he already been a member of the staff when Coach Mac retired, I would have entrusted the program to him this year without hesitation."
Coach McFerren echoes Holland's sentiments, "David is a very professional person. He has a no nonsense approach and provides sound discipline for his basketball team. He shows no favoritism and expects his players to represent the team and our school in a positive manner."
NMCC's departing senior all-state guard Dereke Tipler offered his assessment of Coach Fields' appointment. "I think Coach Fields will be a great fit with our program. I really enjoyed being coached by him this season, as he taught me some fundamental things that really helped my game. If our young guys will listen to what he has to offer I think the next couple of years can be successful ones for our program."
Fields has a tall task ahead as the Eagles lose their top seven players to graduation: Tipler, Ronland Ranson, Derrell Minner, Brian Murph, Terrance Smith, Tyler Wagner and Desmond Sims.
"It's going to be a tough job," said Fields. "Everybody knows what Coach Holland and Coach McFerren have done there. At the same time, I'm going to have the same group I had this year (on jayvee). That should make the transition a little bit easier. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for myself and the kids, but we're looking forward to it."