Willoughby joins Sidney High School staff

Will serve as assistant principal, head boys basketball coach

By Melanie Speicher - [email protected]



SIDNEY — In two separate motions, Sidney City Schools hired a new assistant principal at Sidney High School and a new boys head basketball coach. The name was the same for both positions and one that’s very familiar in Shelby County.

John Willoughby was hired by the Sidney City Schools Board of Education Monday night to fill both positions. Willoughby is currently the athletic director at Hardin-Houston Local School and had resigned his position as boys basketball coach earlier in the year. For more on his return to coaching, see page 9.

A search committee was composed of SHS Principal John Geuy, Assistant Principal Doug Zimmer and Athletic Director Mitch Hoying interviewed candidates for the assistant principal and coaching positions.

The top two candidates were sent to Superintendent John Scheu for an interview.

“He has a proven track record at Houston High School and I think he will be a good fit for us as assistant principal,” said Scheu.

Five people applied for the assistant principal’s job, said Scheu. Two of those candidates were external candidates and three were from the Sidney City Schools District. No one from the school district applied for the coaching job.

“Both top candidates were external candidates,” said Scheu.

Willoughby received a two-year, 220 day contract for $81,315 effective Aug. 1. He will receive a per diem of $369.61 per day from June 1 to July 31 for up to 15 days as recommended by Scheu.

Scheu said Willoughby’s 3 1/2 years as athletic director at Houston gave him one year of experience on his salary schedule.

“I’ve known John for a number of years,” said board member Paul Heins. “I think this is a neat hire. I got to see John in various roles out there. I’m sure the staff and faculty will be disappointed he’s leaving.

“I think this will be a challenging job for him,” said Heins. “I think it will help him grow. He will be putting the assistant principal job before anything else. He will expect more from the students than what they expect from themselves. I’m real happy to see him here.”

Willoughby will be replacing Jason McLain as assistant principal. McLain was hired as the food service/operations director at the April 18 board meeting.

Later in the meeting, the board approved Willougby as the head coach for the boys basketball program. But the approval didn’t come without discussion on how he will do both jobs.

“We’ve separated the assistant principal and head boys basketball position,” said Geuy. “We have a schedule developed and worked out to a T. John can do both jobs and he’ll do 100 percent justice to both.”

Heins said he hopes the young men at SHS realize that the district has hired “one heck of a basketball coach.”

“With his background of playing basketball ball at Miami University, he’s been there and done that as a coach and a player,” said Heins. “I was there for his 300th win (at Houston). The players have a healthy respect for him. He will help prepare them for the real world.”

Board President Bill Ankney voiced his concern about the assistant principal being the head basketball coach.

“I didn’t who John Willoughby was except what I read in the Sidney Daily News,” said Geuy. “I knew he worked at Houston. After having a heart-to-heart conversation with him, there’s no doubt that he can do the jobs.”

Principals and assistant principals attend events, both academic and athletic, during the school year. The events are divided up among the principals.

Hoying said during the fall, there are 60 home events. During the winter, there are 38 home events. Willougby will be attending events during both seasons.

“He’ll be attending some swim meets and some of the girls games during the winter,” said Hoying. “I have no concerns about the assistant principal being the coach. He understands that in the winter his evenings are going to be busy with his team or other games.”

If a basketball player needs discipline, said Hoying, then Zimmer will handle those duties.

“We are at a point that we are attracting a finished product coach in the sports,” said Hoying. “We feel fortunate that he wants to be here.”

Ankney questioned how other teachers will feel if Willoughby has to leave his assistant principal duties for the basketball team.

“Having him as assistant principal at the high school means John will be right there (for practices after school). Clayton Westerbeck (alternative school, wrestling coach) has to leave at the same time the students leave to travel to the high school,” said Scheu.

“I asked John if you have an upset parent and student in your office at 2:15, what are you going to do,” said Scheu. “His response was that’s why you have quality assistants there to start the practice.”

“John is going to be assistant principal first and boys basketball coach second,” said Geuy. “There’s not an ounce in me that’s concerned about this.”

After welcoming him as the new principal and coach, Willoughby introduced his wife, Julie, who is a principal at Urbana and just received her doctorate in education.

“I think we’ll make a great team,” said Willoughby of his new jobs. “I’m going to work my butt off for you. I promise to do my best for you.”

Willoughby will be paid $8,024 as the boys basketball coach. He replaces Andy Slaughter who resigned after two years as coach.

Will serve as assistant principal, head boys basketball coach

By Melanie Speicher

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.