Augusta County lost two head coaches of major sports Tuesday to athletic director positions in other school systems.
Wilson Memorial football head coach Jeremiah Major was named the new athletic director at Waynesboro High School during the Waynesboro School Board meeting Tuesday night.
Major replaces longtime Waynesboro AD and former football head coach Derek McDaniel who is retiring at the end of the school year.
Major’s departure came on the same day that Stuarts Draft boys basketball head coach Mike Gale was appointed to the AD position at Rockbridge County High School.
The now former Wilson coach spent virtually his entire life at the Fishersville school. He graduated from Wilson and then spent the last 21 years teaching and coaching at his alma mater. He had been the head coach of the Green Hornets for the last nine seasons, guiding the team to the 2014 Class 2 state championship game where they suffered a heartbreaking loss to Glenvar in overtime. Major, whose nine years as head coach is the most in the school’s long football history, compiled a 63-44 record during his tenure, including 46-9 in his first four years.
Ironically, Major replaced McDaniel at Wilson’s helm in 2011 when the latter left for Waynesboro.
The Major-McDaniel connection goes back even further.
“I have known Jeremiah since he was born,” McDaniel said. “We came up in the same neighborhood and attended the same church. We are actually distantly related.
“I coached against him and with him. He was the offensive coordinator at Wilson when I was head coach there,” said McDaniel, who had the dual roles of football coach and AD for seven years at Waynesboro, and for good measure coached the Waynesboro Generals in the Valley Baseball League for three summers during that time. He spent the last two years solely in the administrative position.
Major said he wasn’t actively looking for an AD job, but things just fell into place.
“Someone called me to gauge my interest,” he said. “My wife and I talked and prayed over it, and we decided to take the leap.”
Major said he and Waynesboro Principal Bryan Stamm are good friends, so he worked up a list of questions for the interview.
“I really liked the responses I got back,” he said. “Bryan’s goals for the school align with my philosophy. It was about a four-week process, and now I am anxious to get started.”
The new Waynesboro AD knows he has his work cut out as the athletic programs have struggled in recent years, especially football, which is mired on a long losing streak.
“We have a new football coach (Brandon Jarvis) in place, and there is a renewed excitement in the program,” Major said. “I know there is a lot of potential across the board to have success at Waynesboro. There are a lot of athletes in the building, and we want them to buy into our vision. I truly believe there are exciting times ahead.”
McDaniel said he had a long talk with Major about his new role.
“I told him about the pros and cons in becoming an AD,” McDaniel said. “It is not an easy job. A lot of people questioned me when I first came here. Jeremiah is young and has lots of energy. He may be a rookie to administration, but he is no rookie in terms of athletics.”
Wilson athletic director Craig Flesher is going to miss his friend.
“I’m happy for him,” Flesher said. “He was the first coach I met when I arrived at Wilson in August 2014. I was still living in Northern Virginia at the time, and later Jeremiah organized a group of coaches to help me move my stuff down here in the middle of the season, which was the season we played in the state championship game. That says a lot about him. And he was very supportive of me and my family when my father passed away in November 2018.”
Flesher, who said when you think of Wilson, you think of Major because of his long association with the school, is positive Major will do well in his new job.
“Being an AD is a service-related profession, and he excels at that kind of stuff like mowing the fields, painting the lines on the fields, keeping the facilities in top shape,” Flesher said. “He will put in the time. That is for sure.”
Although Major is thrilled with the new door opening in his life, closing the one at Wilson is tough.
“It is hard leaving the relationships that I have built with the players over the years,” he said. “But now I get the opportunity to create new relationships at Waynesboro.”