For the second time in three years, Derrick Stickles has traded in blue and yellow for silver and black.
Stickles, an Oak Glen graduate and former assistant coach at Edison, was named the Wildcats' head football coach at the Edison Local School Board's February meeting held Tuesday at Stanton Elementary. Stickles was hired by a unanimous vote by the board.
"I am thankful for the opportunity," Stickles said. "It feels great to be back at Edison. I'm excited to get started."
Stickles was an assistant coach under Mike McKenzie, whom he replaces at the helm of the Wildcats, for two seasons. He left Edison last year to take a job at his alma mater. Stickles will officially resign at Oak Glen on Jan. 18 and will renew his career at Edison on Jan. 22. Aside from his football duties, Stickles will also be employed as a physical education teacher within the district.
"We knew when we hired Derrick two years ago that he would be asset to our district and we still feel that way," Edison superintendent Bill Beattie said. "We feel fortunate to have him back at Edison. I know we're excited, he is excited and the kids are excited as well. We look forward to what he will bring to the Edison program."
That program has seen better days. Wins and losses aside, Edison's pay-to-participate policy instituted at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year has dealt a direct blow to the football program. Numbers are down in large part to the $275 fee that each player is required to pay. Stickles is hoping to alleviate all that.
"My goal is to make it so every high school football player will not have to pay to play," Stickles said. "I loved playing high school football and I can't imagine not having had that opportunity. No kid should miss being part of high school football because it's too much of a financial hardship for their family. It's going to take a involvement from the community to make that happen, but I have faith the community will come together and support the team."
Stickles' high school career at Oak Glen was a celebrated one. An All-State and All-Conference selection at running back, Stickles was also a three-time state champion and an OVAC champion in wrestling. After graduating from Oak Glen in 2002, Stickles took his talents to West Liberty. He finished his Hilltopper career with 3,544 yards rushing and set the school records in 2003 with 1,492 rushing yards and 348 yards in a single game.
Stickles' coaching career brought him back to Oak Glen last season where he joined Ian Whittington's staff as the offensive coordinator. While it's easy to go back home, leaving is another matter entirely.
"It's hard to leave Oak Glen," Stickles said. "It's always hard to leave any place where you build relationships. I'm going to miss the kids and players at Oak Glen, but I talked to them about it. They understand that this is something I have to do to take the next step in my career and achieve professional goals."
As for his goals at Edison, Stickles had only one word on his mind.
"Success," he said. "My goal is success success on the field, success in the classroom and success for my players in life after they leave high school."