Jack Ginn played football in the Southwest District, and 40 years later, he’s getting the opportunity to be a head coach in the league.
The Richlands High School and Emory & Henry College alum was approved as the new gridiron boss of the Marion Scarlet Hurricanes during last Monday night’s Smyth County school board meeting.
A 1983 graduate of Richlands, who later played at E&H, Ginn has spent most of his career coaching at the collegiate level.
He had stints as an assistant at Emory & Henry, Shepherd, Wartburg and Grand Valley State compiled a 23-17 record as the head coach at North Carolina Wesleyan from 2004-2007, which included a NCAA Division III playoff win.
However, a stint the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Allendale High School in Michigan reinvigorated his passion for the pigskin.
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“I realized, quite honestly, I probably should have been coaching high school football the whole time,” Ginn said. “I loved it. I made the decision over that timespan that unless the stars somehow aligned that going back into college football didn’t excite me, but going somewhere and trying to run a program at a high school really appealed to me, and that’s what I tried to pursue.”
Ginn’s wife, Sherri Davidson Ginn, is a Chilhowie native, while his daughter, Katherine, teaches at Scott Memorial Middle School in Wytheville.
“My wife and I are empty-nesters and our youngest son is a sophomore in college,” Ginn said. “We both had in the back of our minds that we’d like to return to Southwest Virginia. I applied for several jobs in the area, and Marion turned out to be the one for me.”
Marion has endured four straight losing seasons and went 1-9 this past fall with a last-place finish in the SWD. Wide receiver Logan Langston (40 catches, 548 yards, four touchdowns) is a rising senior and among the players that will be back in the fold for the ’Canes.
“If you look at the history of Marion football, they’ve had good seasons, and it’s followed a pretty consistent pattern of every four or five years,” Ginn said. “They’ll win eight, nine or 10 games, so it’s a little hard to believe from the outside that there’s only talent every four or five years. … There’s obviously some ability, and the challenge is if we can build a consistent, sustainable culture that’s gonna be productive on and off the field. I’m excited about that challenge. Anytime you have a change in leadership, there’s going to be a period of observation, evaluation, undoing, redoing and those processes take time.”
Ginn expects to be in Marion by the end of the school year as he begins the relocation process. He also hopes to connect with the team’s players virtually at some point soon.
One thing is certain: folks at the Smyth County school seem thrilled about his arrival.
“Coach Ginn brings a tremendous amount of experience in football,” said Marion principal Mike Davison. “He has coached at the DII, DIII and high school levels, with experience as a coordinator and head coach. He also has a wealth of knowledge in the area of strength and conditioning. Coach Ginn is a Richlands native, an Emory & Henry College alum, and he understands Southwest Virginia and the importance of high school football. More importantly, he understands the importance of using football as a tool to build better men. We look forward to adding his excitement and enthusiasm to our staff. “