As a student, athlete, coach and educator, MHS Hall-of-Famer Joe Cash has done just about everything one person could do at McDowell High School.
Now, you can add another to the long list of roles Cash has filled in his 29-year career.
The school introduced Cash as interim Athletics Director Friday afternoon. He takes over for Keith Ledford, who had been the AD for two and a half years. Ledford, who is also an assistant principal with an exhausting list of responsibilities, will remain at the school.
Principal Edwin Spivey said he appreciates the work Ledford has done and is confident Cash will be successful.
“Mr. Ledford has done a great job for us, but with all the duties he has, he’s just outworking himself,” said Spivey. “What we want to do is make the transition to Coach Cash and ease the burden on Mr. Ledford. He’s not going anywhere, so he’ll be able to answer questions and help with the transition.
“Coach Cash brings a wealth of knowledge. His 29 years at this school have been amazing. We’re pleased to make the transition.”
A 1984 McDowell graduate, Cash was a three-sport star in football, basketball and track, earning all-conference honors in all three as a senior. He was named the school’s Male Athlete of the Year and was chosen for the East-West All-Star football game. Cash has taught and coached at McDowell since 1992, serving as a boys’ basketball assistant all 29 seasons and a football assistant for 22 years. He was named to the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
Cash said he’s excited about the opportunity, even though he steps into the job in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has played havoc with sports at all levels, especially high school.
“It’s definitely different,” he said. “Everything I’m learning now, I’m having to learn on the fly, so to speak. In 29 years, you can pick on stuff here and there, but it’s starting to get just a tad bit overwhelming just starting to try and line things up.
“But I’m excited. At the same time, I’m hoping to do a good job.”
Ledford, 52, took over the job when Neil Brackett retired in February, 2018. But Spivey said Ledford has been stretched too thin trying to keep up with all his responsibilities. Currently, Ledford is in charge of building and grounds maintenance, custodians, the sophomore class and is also transportation coordinator.
“He’s done a great job,” said Spivey. “But I look at what we ask him to do and the hours he puts in. He’s here with buses before 5 every day, and it’s hard.”
Cash will begin as an interim AD, but Spivey said the long-range plan is to drop the ‘interim’ title.
“I’ve talked about this with a number of people, and everyone –- to a person –- talks about how wonderful Coach Cash is,” said Spivey. “We’re excited by that.
“When we talked earlier, we both wanted the term ‘interim.’ He wants to assess how he feels about the situation, and us too. We’re going to get through this sports season and then see where we are.”
Cash’s first season at the helm could be a doozy.
The 2020-21 athletic year in North Carolina promises to be one of the most challenging the state has ever faced. Spring sports were canceled early in the season last March as the pandemic swept the state. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association introduced a plan last summer that would allow scholastic sports to be played this season, even though most schools are operating on modified schedules to try to control the virus.
Volleyball and cross country began official practice last week and can begin play Nov. 16. All other sports are scheduled to begin after the first of the year. All will play shortened schedules.
The county’s stipend for the AD job at MHS is around $5,000, Spivey said.
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