Switzerland names Jesop to usher in football
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 10:00 AM
Switzerland County High School took one more step closer to fielding a varsity football team with the hiring of Ryan Jesop as coach on Monday.
“You can feel the excitement people have. There have been some detractors but by and large I hear nothing but positive things from people ... We want to build a program that people can be proud of and that the kids will want to be a part of.”
football coach Ryan Jesop
Jesop, a former assistant football coach at Madison Consolidated High School, was officially hired as the "volunteer football coach/coordinator" for a Switzerland County program that is starting from scratch.
It will be Jesop's job to oversee the school's first teams this fall and grow a program that hopes to start playing varsity football in 2016.
"I want to thank the board for your trust in me. I know that this is a big undertaking," Jesop told the Switzerland County School Board after his hiring was approved by a 7-0 vote. "We're seeing a lot of excitement within the community. It will take a village to pull this off."
Switzerland County officially approved football last fall but it wasn't until Monday that the school had somebody officially in place to oversee the program.
Jesop, who was a football star at Evansville Reitz High School and played at Ball State University as a preferred walk-on, has been heading the program's efforts for the past few months. His primary focus has been fundraising, a difficult task considering that he wasn't the "official" coach.
"I've been writing two and three requests per week and talking to people but it was hard because they would say, 'who are you?'" Jesop said. "And officially I was just an interested party. There are interested parties everywhere."
With the position now his, Jesop can turn his attention to getting Switzerland County football off the ground. The plan is to field seventh, eighth and ninth grade teams this fall, transition to junior varsity in two years and to a full-fledged varsity program when next year's freshman class are seniors.
Jesop plans on being in charge at every stop and already has talked to assistant coaches to help develop players at every level. But before the first kickoff, there is plenty of work that still must be done.
Switzerland County installed lights and a pressbox at its stadium a few years ago but the school still needs a football scoreboard and goal posts. The program will also need a practice field, a weight room, lockerrooms and of course equipment, lots and lots of equipment.
"That will be my primary focus. We need to raise the money in order to get these things, like a weight room and a practice field, that we need anyway," Jesop said. "We have a great stadium already but we're going to have to make some improvements that we have to have for football."
Switzerland fielded its first youth teams this past fall and Jesop said the turnout was huge and encouraging. While the program didn't have its own equipment, he saw a level of excitement in the community that convinced him that they are headed in the right direction.
"The Madison Parks Department was spectacular to us. They loaned us equipment and we looked like the Bad News Bears out there," Jesop said with a smile. "We had different colored helmets and uniforms but you could just see how happy the kids were and how excited they were to be a part of something."
During the 2011 IHSAA realignment, Switzerland County High School's enrollment was listed at 432, making it the 256th largest school in the state. But it is the fourth-largest school to not field a football team, behind only Scottsburg (877), Hanover Central (580) and Muncie Burris (501).
Four years is a long time away and enrollment numbers can change, not only locally but state-wide, but if Switzerland County had fielded a football team this past season, the Pacers would have been in Class 2A and most likely in the same sectional with Lawrenceburg, Clarksville and Providence among others.
Jesop said he has gotten a large response from students, many of whom do not play a sport in the fall. He also said he has the support of the school's other coaches, such as boys basketball coach B.J. McAlister as well as Adam Pietrykowski, another former Madison assistant football coach who was hired as Switzerland Counhty's girls track & field coach on Monday along with Jesop.
But the most important thing for Jesop is the support the program has received from the community.
"You can feel the excitement people have," Jesop said. "There have been some detractors but by and large I hear nothing but positive things from people.
"We want to build a program that people can be proud of and that the kids will want to be a part of."