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Sports

June 4, 2014

Gothard calls it a career with Comets

Allison named football coach

VELMA — Entering his first year with Velma-Alma, Greg Gothard couldn’t fathom that he would spend the next 25 years with the school. However, this February, the idea that he would be leaving was even more far-fetched.

Early Tuesday evening, the winningest coach in Velma-Alma football history accepted the offensive coordinator job at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee. After a long and tenuous hiring process, which started in April, Gothard was finally leaving “home.”

“I can’t think of a better place to be for the last 25 years or a better place to raise my two kids,” Gothard said. “It’s bittersweet. I’m excited about the next chapter, but man, I’m going to miss Velma.

“It brought me tremendous pride when somebody said there’s the head coach of Velma-Alma. That was tops for me. I could have been president of the United States and not been any more proud of having a title.”

The opportunity for Gothard to just coach football, not coach golf, teach or worry about “how many bags the popcorn machine is popping out,” and enjoy his retirement was too much to pass up. Head baseball coach Colt Allison was hired as the heir apparent, but Gothard had no idea the end would come so fast.

Allison will take over a team that loses only two seniors from last year’s playoff team. He was expected to take over three to five years down the road, but as Gothard said, “God had a different plan.”

Originally from Washington, Allison understands the tradition and prestige of Velma-Alma football.

“I couldn’t ask for a better job or a better opportunity than to be the football coach here,” Allison said. “This was always one of those jobs that I thought would be a dream job… From a professional standpoint, Velma-Alma doesn’t come knocking on the door very often and when they do, you need to answer it.”

Gothard recently took over the role of athletic director from Mike Thompson, the high school principal. Track coach Jerry Loveall will take over those responsibilities with the football coach’s departure. A school that prides itself on its coaches, Gothard, Loveall and basketball coach Kenny Bare represent an oddity at a Class A school. They’ve all been at the school for longer than 17 years.

“As a small school it’s really kind of unique that we’ve had that much longevity,” Loveall said. “That’s what has created the kind of run we’ve had with athletes.”

The boys and girls basketball programs have been perennial contenders for the state tournament. The track program is one of the best in Oklahoma, and the football team can almost always be counted to make the postseason in Class A. Gothard said the consistency of success at the programs makes the school unique and, with a talented football team returning, he thinks this year should continue that even with his departure.

“I can’t think of a better situation that I could leave coach Allison with,” Gothard said. “We’ve got a full team coming back. We’ve got great leaders.”

Gothard said that Allison is the type of coach that could follow in this predecessor’s footsteps and coach for 20 to 25 years. That’s because of the support that the players receive from the parents and people in the community, which seeps through to the coaches.

“We don’t face a lot of opposition to doing what we think is best,” Gothard said. “In truth, they’ve probably treated me far better than I’ve deserved through the years, but it’s just such a great community.

“When I first came here it was a remarkable difference. Now, of course, it’s all I know.”

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