PREP SPORTS: Rome coaches, Strickland leaving after school year
Rome High School’s athletic department will be without four current members of its staff when classes resume this fall.
Athletic Director for Compliance Kevin Strickland, head girls’ basketball coach Jared Hughes, head baseball coach Michael Dougherty and varsity football cheerleading coach Jennifer Dougherty are leaving Rome after this school year.
Strickland was confirmed last Tuesday by the Floyd County Schools Board of Education as the new assistant principal at Model High School. He had recently been Rome’s athletic director.
Strickland served as the junior varsity girls’ basketball coach and an assistant at Rome before being named head girls’ coach in 2003. He stepped down in 2015 to focus more on his role as AD.
Hughes, Strickland’s replacement as girls’ basketball coach, said he plans to take the head coach position for the Woodstock High School girls’ program after two seasons leading the Lady Wolves.
“The worst part was telling the girls on Friday,” Hughes said. “Leaving someone you’ve made a relationship with is always going to be tough. I told the girls the most important thing is to give a fair shake to the replacement.”
Hughes went 35-17 in two seasons guiding the Lady Wolves, reaching the state playoffs his first season and the Holiday Festival tournament finals in his second year.
He will take over a Woodstock program that made the 6A quarterfinals two years ago and finished second in Region 4-7A last year.
Hughes said he was intrigued by the chance to coach in Class 7A, the highest classification in the GHSA.
“I have always told the girls to try and challenge themselves,” he said. “So I think I should heed my own advice and take on a challenge with this team from Woodstock.”
Michael Dougherty and his wife, Jennifer Dougherty, said they did not renew their contracts with the school system on Friday, opting to finish out this school year and look for other opportunities.
Michael Dougherty said the decision came down to job security while and the unknown associated with not having a new principal being named following the resignation of Phillip Brown in March.
“I love Rome. I have no hard feelings for Rome or anybody at Rome,” Michael Dougherty said. “But when there are a lot of changes taking place, it creates an unsettling feeling and you have to take care of your kids first. We put that in front of everything.”
Dougherty took over the baseball program in 2011, and has accumulated 114 wins in that time span. He will still coach this year’s team for the rest of the season.
Dougherty also coached the softball team at times, including in 2016 when he led the team to a 9-9 record.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Dougherty had led Rome High’s varsity cheerleading squad since 2009.