By JOSH FRYE
Escambia County High School is welcoming a new face to the coaching and teaching faculty this year.
Coach John Shears is taking the reins as head varsity basketball coach. He will also serve as offensive coordinator and running-backs coach for the Blue Devils football team and will teach physical education classes.
Shears, a 1996 graduate of Theodore High School, started his coaching career in 2002 as a volunteer with Williamson High School. He made the transition to assistant football and head J.V. basketball coach at the school in 2005.
Shears served four years with the United States Marine Corps upon high school graduation.
“After military service, I didn’t know really what was next and felt a call to coaching and teaching,” the new ECHS coach said.
Shears enrolled in classes at South Alabama, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. He then attended Alabama State University, where he earned a master’s degree in physical education.
Shears helped lead Williamson’s J.V. basketball team to the 2007 state championship. In 2015, he left Williamson for Vigor High School.
That was where he first met Coach Scott Mason.
“Mason is a great guy and coach,” said Shears. “We coached together at Vigor for a short time and we became good friends.”
Mason eventually found his way to Florala High School before making his way to Escambia County High School this year.
“I am very honored that I was called for the job,” Shears said. “Mason promised me that if he ever got a head coaching job, he would call me.”
Mason did just that when he became head coach of the Florala High School football program, but that move was too far and out of the question for Shears.
Upon landing the job at Escambia, Mason again called to Shears, and Shears accepted.
“Mason is a God-fearing man and a man of his word,” Shears said. “I am very excited for the opportunity to help lead the young men of the football and basketball programs at ECHS. The community has welcomed me with open arms, and every one of my kids has a great attitude.”
Shears will be on the ECHS sidelines alongside Mason for the first time on Friday, August 23, when the Devils take on T.R. Miller High in their final tune-up for their August 30 regular-season opener, a home game against Wilcox Central.