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Kidwell moves to Collins

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Desire to be around kids leads him back

By Todd Martin

Gary Kidwell has held just about every position, climbing Shelby County’s public educational rungs like a ladder.

And now he's moving again: Kidwell is leaving his role at the district's central office to be the Student Support Specialist and an assistant basketball coach at Collins High School.

In 1988 Kidwell he came to SCHS as a teacher and assistant basketball coach. He moved up to head coach in 1992, and then over to Athletics Director in' 97.

He then took over the reigns of Shelby County High School as principal in 2003 and is now the Director of Student Accounting and Support Services at central office.

“The district has been very good to me,” Kidwell said. “When I left the school, I was kind of ready to get away from all the drama. But when you get away from everything, sometimes you realize you kind of miss it.”

Kidwell’s new position will be similar to what he did after coaching.

He will be back in charge of athletics, but he’ll be adding administrative duties as well.

“I’ve already had a meeting with Sally [Zimmerman, the SCHS Student Support Specialist], and I’m going to have to do it again because a lot has changed in athletics,” he said.

Collins Principal Anthony Hatchell said he’s looking forward to having Kidwell’s experience on the job.

“It’s going to be a tremendous help,” he said. “When we were looking to fill this job, we wanted someone who not only had athletics experience for the Student Support Specialist duties, but someone who was also a certified administrator, and he certainly fit that bill.”

The move

Kidwell said his move back to the school started with a conversation about coaching.

“I made a comment to Mr. Hatchell, that when they hired a new coach, I might be interested in helping out,” Kidwell said. “I just had an itch to get back in coaching a little.”

Then about two months ago, Kidwell said everything started falling in place.

“We started talking a little about it, and everything started coming together,” he said. “Then about a week or so ago, Mr. Hatchell told me I’d gotten the job, and I got my letter officially telling me on either [last] Friday or Monday.”

In a strange twist of fate, Kidwell’s new basketball coach is Curtis Turley, who was hired to replace Kidwell as coach at SCHS in 1997.

Kidwell said he remembers former principal Jim Flynn being the driving force to bring Turley to SCHS from Greenwood, where both had worked.

“I was all for him, though,” he said. “And I think I remember being in on those interviews.”

Now the two will share a bench together, as Kidwell comes back to the sidelines in an assistant’s role, something he hasn’t done since 1991 when he was an assistant under former SCHS Coach Eddie Mason.

A lot of people thought Kidwell was moving back into coaching to have a seat on the bench as his son, Brent, moves up to Collins.

Brent will be an eighth-grader next season, but Kidwell said that wasn’t the reason.

“Oh, he’ll be fine whether I’m there or not,” he said. “This was really more about me than him, doing something I want to do.”

Wealth of experience

As Kidwell transitions back to old, familiar roles, he’ll bring a tremendous amount of experience to Collins.

“I feel very fortunate to have him, along with several other people we have coming into the building,” Hatchell said. “His desire to take on a role like this was a big advantage for us.”

Kidwell said he’d do whatever is necessary to help Collins’ succeed.

“I told Mr. Hatchell, I’m not worried about what the job description is, I’ll do whatever he needs me to do, whatever I can do to help.”

However, for five years Kidwell was the principal at SCHS, will it be tough to take orders in a high school now?

“It’s going to be an interesting feeling,” he said. “But it’s been that way here [at central office]  for the past couple of years. I’ve been doing a lot of work, kind of behind the scenes. I’ve gotten to kind of bounce around the last few years, and I like that, it keeps me from getting stale.

“But I got in this business 25-26 years ago to work with kids, and it’s going to be nice to get back to that.”