By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
A longtime local college basketball coach will try his hand on the high school gridiron this fall.
Todd Ginn (pictured above), who coached the Gadsden State men’s basketball team from 2006 to 2016, was hired as head football coach at Alexandria High School this past May.
“It’s where I’m from, and I thought that it was the right time,” said Ginn. “It’s not really a homecoming since I’ve been teaching there for 18 years and I run the [Champions] Sports Academy right down the road. Sometimes the Lord opens a door, and I thought this is the door that He opened for me.
“The good thing about this community is that there’s a lot of people around here who know me and understand what I’m about and where I’m going with this thing. I think we’ll have a lot of excitement around here in the coming years.”
Ginn played quarterback for the Valley Cubs from 1994 to 1997 under his dad Larry, who was Alexandria’s head football coach from 1986 to 2006 and is a member of the Calhoun County and Alabama High School Athletic Association halls of fame. He passed away in 2009 following a battle with cancer.
As a sophomore, the younger Ginn quarterbacked the Valley Cubs to a berth in the Class 4A state semifinals. Alexandria won it all in his junior season of 1995, going undefeated and beating T.R. Miller in the state championship game. Ginn was a Birmingham News first-team all-state selection. The Valley Cubs then made it to the state quarterfinals in Ginn’s senior year. During his three years as a starting quarterback, Todd Ginn led Alexandria to a 37-3 record.
After graduating, Ginn earned basketball scholarships to Gadsden State and Birmingham Southern.
During and after his college days, he served as an assistant football coach at his high school alma mater until he accepted the head basketball position at GSCC. Ginn’s 2010-11 and 2014-15 teams finished as state runner-up in the Alabama Community College Conference Tournament. Ginn twice was named ACCC Coach of the Year during his time with the Cardinals.
Asked to reveal his short-term goals for his inaugural season, Ginn noted that he would instill the same expectations he placed on his Gadsden State basketball teams.
“If people show up and pay to watch us play, I want them to get their money’s worth. No matter how good we are talent-wise, I want maximum effort and I’ll expect nothing less. I want to put a product on the field that people will want to cheer for. It’s hard to cheer for guys who are naturally blessed and don’t work hard enough.
“I also want to get our program to the point that other team will say, win or lose, ‘We don’t want to play them again,’ after they play us. But, just like it was at Gadsden State, no one’s going to put any more pressure on me then I’ll put on myself.”
Ginn’s Gadsden State teams were known for their superior conditioning, an advantage that he expects his Alexandria teams to enjoy.
“We’re going to get these guys in the type of shape where if we need them to, they can play every minute that the clock is running. Your goal, of course, is to give players some breaks, but that may not turn out to be the case.”
If the going does get tough in Death Valley while Ginn is laying his foundation, he won’t have a thin skin.
“As long as folks are being honest, I actually thrive in constructive criticism. Quality people who support this program are going to tell you when things aren’t going right. What they’re not going to be able to do is find somebody who has worked harder in coaching and developing young men than I have over the last 18 years. I can promise you that I’ll set higher standards for myself than anyone else can set for me.”
Ginn did share one of his long-tern goals for the program.
“My dad always said that there’s a very small percentage of high school football players who will play in college, so it’s our job to teach them how to be good dads, good husbands and productive citizens.”
Ginn acknowledged that one difference in coaching at the junior college and high school levels is choosing your players as opposed to taking what the school’s enrollment provides.
“If I needed a shooter or an athlete at Gadsden State, I went out and got one. Now, I only have so many cards in the deck that’s been dealt to me. Having said that, if a kid likes what we’re doing and wants to legitimately move to be a part of our program, I see nothing wrong with that.”
Ginn’s brothers Will and Scott, along with Jake Welch, will be a part of his staff. All three either played and coached basketball at Gadsden State.
Ginn is looking forward to the Alexandria’s upcoming Class 5A, Region 6 battles with Etowah County’s Sardis, Southside and Etowah high schools. The Valley Cubs host the Lions on Oct. 5, visit the Panthers a week later and en-tertain the Blue Devils on Oct. 19. Boaz, Crossville and Douglas round out the region.
“It should be a pretty competitive region. We’re locked into it for two years, and we’ll see what happens. But it’s going to be more about what we’re doing and how we’re getting better than where the other teams are at. I know where I want to the program to be in a couple of years; I just have to make sure that I don’t stray from the line that I want to follow.”