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Any Galax High School football fan hoping to see a wisp of white smoke wafting from the chimney at 223 Long Street any time soon should be patient.
This isn’t a college program we’re talking about here. With no recruits hinging on the decision, no wealthy boosters to appease and no ESPN beating down its door, Galax can afford to take its time, and just today stopped taking applications for its vacant head football coaching position. Though it has been more than two months since Jared Van Acker vacated the position, the process of finding a replacement will take a few more weeks at least, according to Galax officials. “I expect that sometime around the second week in February, we will start to narrow down the applicant pool, looking at the number we will interview, and then move forward with the interview process,” said GHS principal Bill Sutherland. Sutherland and Galax school superintendent Bill Sturgill said that an interview team will be in place to handle that duty, but there is no firm deadline on naming a new coach. “I think we will know a lot more in March and April, but that will be up to the interview team,” said Sutherland. Part of the process timeline relies on the teaching vacancies available, as the new coach will need to fit into one of those openings, and retirements and other personnel moves aren’t readily known at mid-term. But Sturgill seemed pleased by the interest the vacancy has drawn, counting 21 applications as of the end of January. “We’ve got some great applicants and we’re excited about the numbers,” Sturgill said. “We’ve received interest from some good local coaches, from Galax as well as Carroll County and Grayson County, and we’ve gotten some good ones from outside the area as well.” Van Acker stepped down after three seasons at Galax.