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Douglass turned down Vanderbilt for Springfield

Springfield High School already has one victory in the Maurice Douglass era. The Greater Western Ohio Conference football program beat out Vanderbilt University for Douglass’ services, making it official during Thursday night’s Springfield City Schools board meeting.

The board unanimously approved Douglass to replace Eric Gillespie, who resigned after going 2-18 in two seasons.

After the meeting Douglass said he received a phone call from friend and new Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason on Sunday. Douglass said he turned down the Commodores’ defensive backs position. Family time (Douglass has a 13-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter) and his commitment to turning around Springfield won out.

“It would have been very selfish for me to take a job like that,” Douglass said, referring to the time demands a college coaching job requires.

“In my heart God was telling me about the young men and women I would have the opportunity to work with at Springfield. They’re the same kids we had at Trotwood, who are in need of some guidance and structure. … In my 13 years at Trotwood we did some special things. But the need and the cry of the kids here in Springfield, when I walked into the building the first time in December, I knew this is where I was supposed to be at.”

Douglass said there was no bad blood or hard feelings leaving Trotwood-Madison. After eight postseason appearances in 14 seasons, including a state championship in 2011, it was time to find a new challenge, he said.

At Springfield, Douglass will also work as a youth transition adviser. He’ll help kids make the transition from eighth grade to high school as well as kids transitioning from the juvenile detention center to high school. He was also named strength coach and weight-room supervisor.

“We welcome you, and boy that (blue and yellow Wildcats) shirt looks good on you,” Supt. Dr. David Estrop said to approving laughter after the board’s vote.

“It’s his passion, beyond just the football field, it’s his passion to see our students be successful,” Estrop added after the meeting. “This is the kind of commitment we need to get the job done, not only on the football field, but in our schools and across the district. Maurice is the kind of individual we are looking for.”

Douglass’ first high school coaching job came as an assistant coach at Springfield South prior to leaving for Trotwood, his alma mater, in 2000. Now back in Springfield his job is to, in Douglass’ words, “restore the roar.”

The Wildcats went 1-9 in both 2012 and 2013. Their lone win last season was a forfeit victory over Trotwood, which reported to the OHSAA its use of an academically ineligible player. The Wildcats are 23-40 since North and South merged in 2008.

“We’re going for it,” Douglass said of next season. “We’re going for it. Fifteen weeks is all I know. We’re going to compete every day.”

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