Former star of last Tigers boys’ team
with winning record takes over program
By CHRIS HOBBS
NEWTON – Fred T. Foard High is turning to one of its former basketball stars to boost its varsity boys’ program.
Nolan Whitener — an assistant for the Tigers last year and a leader on Foard’s team his senior year (2014-15) by averaging 17 points and 6.5 rebounds – is Foard’s new head coach.
Whitener replaces Andy Hodges, who retired after six seasons (53-98, two state playoff teams) at Foard. When he resigned, Hodges said he may retire from teaching when he becomes eligible in December.
“We wanted to find the best option for our students and pair that with the open teaching positions we had,” Foard athletic director Samy Shreitah said Friday of promoting Whitener, an online facilitator at Foard. “He is going to be committed to Fred T. Foard. We’re excited about the care and passion he will bring to the program.”
Whitener will also continue to work with the Tigers’ junior varsity program and Foard is working on finalizing assistant coaches for basketball, Shreitah said.
Whitener, who is 6-foot-5, played basketball and baseball at Foard.
As a senior, he led a 16-8 basketball team coached by Hodges that went 10-4 in the Northwestern 3A-4A (tied Hibriten and Watauga for second place), and that team forfeited two early season wins for inadvertent use of an ineligible player. The Tigers fell to Anson County in the first round of the state 3A playoffs (77-64).
In baseball, Whitener was and outfielder and pitcher for head coach Channon Vogel on a 10-15 team that was 6-8 in the league, tying Watauga for fifth place.
Whitener played two seasons of basketball at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) and two at Pfeiffer University. At Pfeiffer, he averaged 5.9 points per game and shot 60.8 percent in 49 games with 29 starts.
Foard is currently in its longest streak of consecutive losing seasons (5) in the past 42 seasons – 8-17 in 2015-16, 11-16 the next season and 6-19 in each of the last three seasons.
Whitener’s senior team is the last one with a winning record at Foard, which has missed the state playoffs three straight years after having qualified six of the previous seven seasons.
He is the seventh head boys’ varsity coach since the late 1960s at Foard, following the late Jerry Copas (last season was 1987-88), Jim Norris (12 years), Lance Watson (10 years), Mike Hainrihar (one year), Rob Bliss (three years) and Hodges (six years).
At the end of July, five schools in the South Fork 2A, Northwestern Foothills 2A and Northwestern 3A-4A will have new varsity boys’ coaches: Bandys (Rob Bliss), Bunker Hill (vacant), Foard, Hickory (Daniel Willis) and St. Stephens (Patrick Smith, after missing last year while on military duty in Kuwait).
Tigers add 2 new football assistants
Shreitah said head football coach Ryan Gettys will have two new assistants, including a former Tigers player.
Parker Swaringen, a Concord graduate who played at Western Carolina and previously coached at Rosman High, will be Foard’s defensive coordinator. He teaches physical education and weight training.
Former Foard linebacker Corey Durben will coach linebackers as a non-faculty coach. He is a 2007 Foard graduate who played during Gettys’ first tenure as Tigers head coach.
Gettys will be in the second season of his second tenure as Foard head coach. He previously coached the Tigers for eight seasons, starting in 2003 when he replaced the late Charlie Lloyd.
Foard went 2-9 last season and 2-5 in the Northwestern Foothills 2A (sixth place).
The Tigers’ 2020 schedule indicated a season-opener on Aug. 17 against Maiden on the road, but COVID-19 has disrupted all events.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) says no fall sports are allowed before Sept. 1, and there are more decisions forthcoming on when fall sports might be able to play.