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Saturday, Apr. 19, 2014

McFerren to coach NMCC again

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

(Photo)
Lennies McFerren
NEW MADRID - Mac is back.

That phrase means one thing to Southeast Missouri high school basketball fans --

Lennies McFerren is back in coaching.

And he's back at the same school he stepped down at in 2001 -- New Madrid County Central -- it was announced late Monday night.

After Scott Kruse announced his resignation last month, NMCC opened a job search, but their thoughts weren't as much on who they could bring in, but who they could keep.

None of the applicants were as attractive to the school as bringing McFerren back for another run.

McFerren, 56, has been serving as NMCC's assistant principal and athletic director since retiring from coaching in 2001.

"We're very fortunate to have a National High School Coach of the Year on staff and be able to put him back to coaching again," said NMCC principal Joby Holland. "It's a very exciting time for us. There wasn't a lot of interest for the position so he felt he had a great bond to our school and a real need to help this school."

Holland said the program's lack of success the last three years may have dissuaded coaches from applying there.

Although the school conducted an active search for a qualified coach, many at NMCC had their minds set on McFerren from the start.

"We haven't had the success the last few years as far as win totals, so that's the only thing I can attribute it to," said Holland. "It's going to be a few years before we have a big talent pool of kids to come back through there. Lennies will bring a lot of that back and will generate a lot of excitement.

"We looked thoroughly to find a good replacement but at the same time, the school and the community was really supportive of Lennies coming back. He's done so many good things for us, and not just win totals and state tournament appearances. He just brings so much to the plate as a human being and his professionalism and just his respect for the school."

McFerren coached the Eagles from 1994-2001, compiling a record of 121-70 including three district championships and two state championships in 2000 and 2001.

He was named National Coach of the Year in 2001.

Following his retirement, the program has fallen on hard times the last three years, going 23-54, including a 6-20 ledger this past season.

McFerren, a 1966 Howardville High School graduate, went to Three Rivers Community College and Southeast Missouri State University before taking his first coaching job at Charleston where he helped build the program into a state power.

He spent two years as an assistant to Mitch Haskins before taking over the head coaching position in 1977.

He coached the Bluejays from 1977-1993, leading them to seven state championships, including a 33-0 run in 1990.

He left the Charleston program when it seemed to be peaking following the 1993 season to take the job at NMCC.

"New Madrid County Central gave me an opportunity to come in there in 1994," said McFerren. "We had a good run -- it took five years before we got a state championship. I thought we could get one the first year I got there to tell you the truth. But it let me know that it wasn't as easy as I thought it was. I just want to enjoy, work hard, and see what we can get out of each other. It's all about the school, it's not about Lennies McFerren."

McFerren said he was close to taking the coaching job at Hayti, but it would have required him to retire from administration and become only a coach.

"I talked to Hayti and really the only problem with the Hayti position was it was a part-time job," said McFerren. "I wasn't ready to lay my hat down and stop working and just coach. That was the only thing that bothered me. Part-

time didn't sound too well and retiring didn't sound too good. I figured that I'm already here at New Madrid County Central, I'm not going to retire, I might as well do something that I love doing."

There were also rumors of McFerren heading to SEMO, but he said there was no validity to those rumors.

"Every time a job came available or there was a possibility that a position might be open, my name was thrown around quite a bit," said McFerren. "No one from SEMO or myself has ever came in contact with each other about the SEMO job. Those are just rumors. Totally untrue."

Now the question remains, how long will McFerren coach? He doesn't know, but his hope is to get the program on the winning track. If and when that happens, he said he will retire altogether.

"Lennies McFerren is a totally different person than he was four years ago," said McFerren. "I had a chance to step back and look at the total picture. I'm looking at it as a challenge again. It was a challenge before when I came here in 1994. And it's a challenge again.

"When my time is up, I won't be staying around where coaches feel they can't come in and do their job because Lennies McFerren is in the system. That has hurt us more than anything, because I've been hanging around. When that happens again, I will be retiring from the whole system and not just the coaching again."

As for Holland, who led the Eagles to a school record 28-4 mark and a second place finish at state in 2001-2002 following McFerren's retirement, he's just happy to have Mac back.

"I see him wanting to go on and get the program to the status of where he's had it in the past," said Holland. "If that takes two years, five years or 10 years, I don't think there's a timetable on when he's going to walk away on it.

"He's been in education for 30 years and he could retire, but he's energized and ready to answer the bell. I think we'll see him around for a while. It's not a short-term fill-in guy I don't think. I commend them for bringing Lennies there in the first place 11 years ago and not letting him get away from us."