Just 10 days after Hugh Fountain guided Escambia Academy’s football team to the AISA Class AA state title, the veteran coach became the Canoe independent school’s third headmaster in the past 12 months.
Fountain, who already served as EA’s assistant headmaster, received unanimous approval from the school’s board of directors to succeed Wade Heigle, who resigned late last week after taking over as headmaster in November 2016.
There was no discussion of Heigle’s decision to resign barely a year after he replaced David Walker, a former coach who was inducted into the Alabama Independent School Association’s Hall of Fame in 2009 on the basis of 15 basketball and track championships, as headmaster.
Mike Campbell, who chairs the EA board, said prior to the group’s November 27 meeting that Fountain was an obvious choice for the position.
“Coach Fountain, Headmaster Fountain is very passionate, and his work ethic is beyond reproach,” Campbell said. “Everybody here loves him. More importantly, they respect him. He’s going to do a fantastic job, and he has unanimous board support.”
As board members gathered for the meeting, they shared stories about the popular coach’s first day on the job, most of them related to the rare sight of Fountain in a suit and tie.
Fountain, who assumed the headmaster’s office on Monday, said his first day was “great,” but admitted that, “everybody gave me heck about the suit.” He pointed out that he hadn’t sought the job, but decided when it was offered that the time was right for such a move.
“I was already doing a lot of administrative stuff; I’ve been helping them since I’ve been here, especially the last two years,” he said. “When (the board) asked me if I would be interested in doing it, I felt like it was time to try it. Now I’ve just got to get a good plan together.”
Campbell said the new headmaster had already expressed some ideas that indicate he is already hard at work on the plan.
“He’s committed to being a clear, concise leader for our organization,” the board chair said. “He already has a vision for this school that is going to make us even better. He’s going to focus more on academics, so he’ll have to outsource a little of the athletics.”
Fountain, who last November earned the 200th win of his two-decades-plus coaching career, said mentorship of the football team would not be one of the outsourced areas.
“Oh, yeah, I’m going to still coach football,” he smiled. “I don’t plan on changing that.”
The board chairman promised that Fountain, who has coached the Cougars for six seasons, would be given free rein in administering EA’s day-to-day operations.
“He’s going to run the school,” said Campbell. “We’re not going to micro-manage. Those days are long gone, if I have anything to do with it.”