PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It's not often you hear about a high school principal moving from that job to become a head football coach. Bay's new head coach is making such a move.
Bay Principal Billy May introduced Keith Bland as Bay's next head football coach during a press conference at Cobb Gym at Bay Wednesday afternoon.
Bland has been the principal at Arnold High School the last ten years, so he's been out of the sport for some time. He is a 1986 Bay alum, who went on to play four years of football on scholarship at Memphis State.
After getting his Masters in Educational Leadership at West Florida, he came back home and began teaching, and coaching football as an assistant at Mosley and Bay. He then went on to become the head coach at what was then Apalachicola High School for two seasons in the early 2000's.
He took the Arnold principal's job in 2009, a job he held up until now.
"It was a hard, hard decision." Coach Bland told us after his introduction. "The faculty and staff at Arnold High School is truly amazing, it's a great school. I've been there ten years as a principal which seems like an eternity at times, but the staff there is incredible and you hate to leave in that regard, but sometimes you have dreams and aspirations as a career and there's always that one job that you say, 'If that one was it, that would be the one I would make a move for.' and obviously Bay High School is that one."
Coach Bland knows he has a serious rebuilding job, in every way. But it is one, he says, he is ready for.
"We did see students enroll at Arnold from Bay High School Rutherford, and Mosley that went through it. I live in town myself and everyday when you ride home you see the devastation. But with that devastation it's almost like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. I saw a sign the other day that said, "It's not the devastation, it's the rebound that'll be great." And that's what I'm looking forward to. That's our circumstance, it doesn't have to be our attitude about it so let's get it and let's make it strong."
Coach Bland didn't tell us when his start date at Bay would be, he says he still has business at Arnold to take care. He did say he would be at Bay when spring football is set to begin in late April.