By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Although a degree in industrial engineering is not listed on his resume, Shea Monroe’s bridge-building skills will soon be put to the test.
Monroe (pictured above), who was hired as Ashville High School head football coach and athletic director during the May 19 meeting of the St. Clair County School Board, realizes that part of his responsibilities will be to act as a liaison between the school, its alumnus and the community.
“Ashville is such a great place, and I’m very thankful to have this opportunity, said Monroe (pictured at right). “As far as people go, it’s probably the best place I’ve been. We want to get the community excited not just about our football team but restoring the Ashville pride. We’re a program that is in need of some serious TLC, and I want people once again to be proud that they’re from Ashville.”
Monroe did not waste time putting his stamp on the program. Less than 12 hours after he was officially hired, he met with his assistant coaches to discuss short-term and long-term goals for the football program.
“We really didn’t get into the x’s and o’s too much,” he said. “We just talked about what I wanted the program to look like and how we’re going to establish a culture and meet a standard every day. I know that it’s a cliché, but I just want to see our kids improve every day. It’s not going to be an overnight fix, and I expressed that to Miss Johnson and the interview committee.
“At least for the short term, I’d like us to be judged not by our win/loss record but how competitive we are every Friday night and how our kids represent themselves in the school and in the community. I’m a firm believer that if you take care of all of those little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”
In his role as athletic director, Monroe intends to have a presence in every sport, both boys and girls.
“That starts with me remaining as an assistant coach for the softball team,” he said. “I really enjoy coaching the girls side of it, because it gives you a perspective on things. Quite frankly, coaching girls sports is one of the highlights of my coaching career. I’m tickled to death to be with all of our kids.”
As far as summer football workouts concerned, the Alabama High School Athletic Association recently mandated that one coach will be in charge of nine players at one time for a total of 10 people interacting. Similarly-numbered groups are allowed on campus at the same time but must remain on separate athletic fields and facilities.”
“The good thing is that we don’t do anything football-related in June, so the plan for right now is to just keep up with the updates,” said Monroe.
A Loganville, Georgia, native, Monroe played tight end at Grayson High School under Mickey Conn, the current safeties coach for the Clemson football team. Monroe then attended Jacksonville State, where he was an undergraduate football assistant under Jack Crowe for all four years.
After graduating JSU in 2012, Monroe serves as offensive line coach in Dublin High School in Georgia for one year before working as offensive coordinator at Lincoln High School from 2013-15. He was named head coach at Westbrook Christian in early 2016 but coached the Warriors for only two games before resigning. He rejoined Lincoln for the remainder of the 2016 season before landing at Ashville in 2018 as an assistant football and softball coach.
AHS Principal Janet Johnson said that she hired Monroe just as much for his vision of narrowing the gap between the school and the Ashville community as she did for his football acumen.
“Everyone who interviewed for that position knew a lot of about football, as did Shea, but right now we’ve got to pull the community back in with the school,” she said. “It seems as though there has been a separation in that area for a long time, and it’s time to fix that and bring the alumni back into the picture. I think Shea is the person who will be that positive force that will guide us in the direction that we need to be in. Once that happens and when the culture gets turned around, the wins will come.”
As far as Monroe’s responsibilities as athletic director, Johnson views him as a top-notch organizer, motivator and team player who will nurture and support every student-athlete in every sports program at AHS.
“From the time that Shea started at Ashville, he has been that kind of person that gets everything done well ahead of time. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to see him interact with our kids and talk to people from the community. People just gravitate toward him. Shea is that type of person who you feel like he’ll make everything right.”
Monroe touched briefly on the Bulldogs’ 2020 football schedule. Ashville shares Class 4A, Region 6 with Etowah, Dora, Fultondale, Good Hope, Hanceville and Oneonta and has none-region games against Southeastern, St. Clair County, Oak Grove and Weaver.
“They’ve got a brand-new coach at Oak Grove, who was the defensive coordinator at Mortimer Jordan. Southeastern should be much improved. Good Hope, Etowah and Oneonta are all well-coached football teams whose kids play extremely hard. Dora’s a good team that dropped down from 5A. Coach Dampeer does a really good job at St. Clair County, who is in the toughest 5A region in the northern part of the state. Fultondale’s got a lot of experience on their staff, and Coach McCain is trying to rebuild the program over at Hanceville and has it going in the right direction. Weaver plays in arguably the toughest 3A region in the state, but I think that Coach Taylor will turn that program around.”
Monroe is well aware that Ashville High football program has not qualified for the state playoffs since the 2005 season and not won a postseason game since 2001.
“I know the type of challenge that’s ahead of us. I think our kids are hungry and they’ve worked hard; we just have to teach them how to be better leaders. You can’t expect a kid to walk out on the field and say that he is a leader. You’ve got to show them how to lead, first by example and then vocally.”