Wallace welcomes coaches

Published 12:26 am Friday, June 19, 2009

Athletics at Wallace CC Selma will be a reunion of sorts for three coaches. Not as much among themselves as with the school itself.

April Harper, who has been at Selma High the past nine years, will be Wallace’s new women’s basketball and volleyball coach.

Her assistant coach, Herman Turner, graduated from Wallace in 1975 and has been working with Selma High and Middle School athletics since 1977.

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New baseball coach Frank Elliott played outfield at Wallace before graduating from the University of Montevallo with bachelor of science and master’s degrees in physical education.

Even though they may be new to their jobs, they’re not unfamiliar with the area.

Harper said she has a good background in both sports, having played volleyball at Alabama State. After holding the first round of tryouts last weekend, she said she is encouraged by the results.

“We had a big turnout with some great prospects,” Harper said. “With the recruits we have here, we will be able to build on what is already a strong program.”

Harper said she is thankful for the chance to coach at Wallace.

“I want to thank (Wallace President) Dr. (James) Mitchell and the support staff for making me feel welcome and giving me the opportunity to coach on this level,” she said.

Turner has a lot of “firsts” in his life that involve Selma and Wallace. He coached Selma High to its first district title

“I was also in the group to play in Wallace’s new gym,” he said.

Even earlier, he was Athletics Director Marcus Hannah’s first P.E. teacher in the fourth grade.

Turner said he respects coach Harper’s work ethic. “She’s a hard-working young lady, and I have always worked hard,” he said.

Turner also emphasized the Lady Patriots will be starting from the beginning.

“The fundamentals are the same, and we will stress the fundamentals,” Turner said. “They’re athletes, and hopefully the fundamentals will develop to make them complete ballplayers.”

On the baseball side, Elliott said his team will have improved talent, so he plans to get them more experience. He will be starting the school’s first fall schedule this year.

Elliott said the Patriots will be stronger in pitching and catching, with more speed in the outfield.

“Starting the fall schedule, they will get experience, which will help them along the way,” he said.

Elliott got his first coaching experience as a 22-year-old American Legion coach in Tuscaloosa. He also coached at Southside High, then started Concordia College’s program.

The “student” part of student-athletes also impresses Elliott.

“I like the ACT scores of the players we have coming in,” he said. “They are better athletes plus they’re smarter.”