Its girls sports — not so much.
New coach Randy Stracner hopes to change that image. Stracner, 37, was officially named the Lady Blue Devils’ softball, girls basketball and volleyball coach at the Walker County Board of Education meeting last week.
He’s glad to be home.
“Being from Cordova has always been a source of pride for me,” Stracner said. “I’m proud to be from here. The people in the community have been great to me for my entire life. I’m very proud to come back here and be able to contribute to the community that raised me.”
Stracner, a 1992 Cordova High School graduate, spent the last five years at Class 5A Walker High School, where he guided each girls sport to the playoffs.
Now his focus is on making his alma mater a factor in the Class 3A ranks.
“I believe we can have success here. The administration wants to put an emphasis on girls sports. There’s a lot of excitement and the potential and resources are here. With that being said, we can come in, work hard and make some big things happen,” Stracner said.
“(Monday) night they had a meet and greet for me down here. The cafeteria was packed. I was overwhelmed. I’m really looking forward to working with the administration, faculty and staff at Cordova. (Principal) Kathy Vintson has a lot of good plans for the school. Things are going in the right direction. The support and the excitement have been incredible.”
Stracner’s Walker teams excelled at volleyball, basketball and softball.
Last year the volleyball team won an area title and advanced to the sub-region, the softball team made the regional tournament and finished one win short of the state tournament and the basketball team advanced to the sub-state.
For Stracner, it was a typical year.
“During the whole time I was at Walker, there was only one year where we didn’t make the playoffs in all three sports,” Stracner added.
Walker’s softball team has advanced to the regional tournament each of the last three seasons.
Cordova hasn’t enjoyed the same kind of success in its girls athletic programs.
Last season, Cordova’s softball team got off to a hot start before injuries and a tough schedule took their toll down the stretch, leaving the Lady Blue Devils out of the playoffs.
On the basketball court, Cordova’s girls won just a couple of games while the volleyball team finished with a winning record before losing to Carbon Hill in the area tournament.
Stracner is aiming high at Cordova. Though he admits it will take a lot of work.
“First of all, it’s up to the players. Their mindset is going to have to change. If you want to get to the highest level, you have to work extremely hard. I think the girls here are eager and ready for something like that to happen,” he said. “Our goal is to compete at the state level year in and year out.”
During his days at Cordova High School, Stracner played baseball and basketball as well as two years of football. He is a 1999 UAB graduate and coached at Stockbridge High School in Georgia before moving to Walker in 2006.
“I want to say that I really appreciate all the students, parents, faculty and assistant principals at Walker High School. Those are the people who supported me and I couldn’t ask for more. The relationships I made with them will last a lifetime. I hated to leave them, but I did what was best for my family,” Stracner said.
Area coaching notes:
Former Winston County volleyball coach Bobby Daniels is the new volleyball coach at Curry High School. Daniels has led the Lady Yellow Jackets to the state tournament seven times.
Winston County finished 64-7 last year and placed second in Class 3A to Bayside Academy.
At Walker High School, Whitney Jordan (former Whitney Banks) has been hired as Stracner’s replacement as softball coach. Banks was a star pitcher for the Curry Lady Yellow Jackets during her playing days.
On the football field, a pair of head coaches will be assistants in 2011. Former Dora head coach Martin Glover is now an assistant coach at Cordova High School and former Cordova head coach Pete Bush is an assistant coach at Dora High School.