White named Selma AD, Handley football coach

Published 8:46 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Selma High School has a new athletic director and football coach, but the school has not made a decision about who will coach its boys’ basketball team next year.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, board members approved naming Melissa White as the school’s athletic director and Keon Handley Sr. as the new football coach.

Both White and Handley are taking over for Leroy Miles, who stepped down in March. Miles had been Selma High School’s football coach for six years and had served as the school’s athletic director for about a year.

White has been with Selma High School for 10 years and has served as the head coach for volleyball, an assistant coach for girls’ basketball and a track coach during that time. She has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and master’s degree in administration and supervision from Auburn University at Montgomery.

White has served as an educator for 13 years and has a daughter, J’Tia, who graduated from Selma High School and currently plays volleyball for Alabama A&M.

White plans to stabilize the Selma athletic department, which has gone through a lot of staff movement recently.

“We’ve gone through a lot of changes through the years and being here for 10 years, there were some things we saw that need to be changed and could be changed,” White said.

She didn’t specify anything specific on Wednesday, but did point to the girls’ basketball program as an example of stability and success. The program has had the same staff during White’s time at Selma High and has been one of the most successful teams at the school.

“Change can be good, change can be uncomfortable but sometimes change is necessary,” White said. “As a coach, they may not agree with the plays that you call, but if it gives you that win then of course we are all OK with it.”

White said at this time she still plans to coach both volleyball and basketball next season.

Handley is a Birmingham native and graduated from Fairfield High School. He and his wife Yvonda have been married for 14 years and the couple has three children — Zahria, Keon Jr. and Eric.

He attended Miles College and obtained a degree in mathematics education in 2005 and served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves.

He started his coaching career at Fairfield as a volunteer before moving on to the now defunct Jess Lanier High School, where he served as an assistant from 2004-2007.

He then moved to Florida and coached at First Coast High School and Raines High School. From there, he took a break from coaching to serve as an administrator of a high school dropout program.

In 2013, he got back into coaching at St. Stanislaus College, an all-boys Catholic school in Mississippi. From there, he served as the quarterbacks coach at Long Beach High School in Mississippi.

The position at Selma High School is Handley’s first head coaching job.

“It is an opportunity to take the things I’ve learned over the last 14 years and put it to use for kids who want something different,” Handley said.

Miles went 31-31 in six years of coaching the Saints’ football program. Selma made the playoffs in two of those six years, with the last time being in 2013. Reggie Glover has led the Saints football program since Miles stepped down in February.

Handley describes himself as an “outside the box” guy and said he is an offensive-minded coach. He wants the Saints to throw the ball a lot next year, which would be a major shift in philosophy from Miles’ ground and pound, tempo style offense that focused on controlling the line of scrimmage and the clock.

“We can win throwing the ball and make the running game an explosive play for us,” Handley said.

“That’s what I want to do for Selma.”

Handley will meet the team for the first time on Friday. Later that evening, the Saints will play Robert E. Lee in Montgomery in a spring jamboree.

While two positions were filled, one major job still remains open. White said no decision has been made in the hiring of a new boys basketball coach. The new coach will replace Woodie Jackson, one of the winningest boys’ basketball coaches in state history. Jackson resigned from his position in April.

“We have some people coming in tomorrow afternoon that are going to be interviewed and once we go through that process and debrief and see what fits into our program, then we will make the recommendation and go from there,” White said.

Calls seeking comment from Selma High School principal Emma Theresa Alexander were not returned on Wednesday afternoon.