Whitehall High School’s extensive nationwide search for a new varsity head football coach included candidates from football-rich states like Florida and Texas, but ended up with a district teacher who played high school and college football in Michigan.
At Monday night’s board of education meeting, Tony Sigmon was introduced as the new head of the Viking football program.
“Again, it is very, very humbling to have a position like this offered to a person that’s really my age. A lot of time I look at this as something so humbling it’s hard to put in words,” said the 28-year-old, who was hired as a middle school art teacher this fall.
“This place has so much potential as a football program and from a person who has been able to play high school football in Michigan and has been able to move to Florida and coach it and come back to such a wonderful community, it’s exciting to both myself and my wife. I’d also like to thank both Dale and Jerry for going ahead and moving forward with the approval that the committee decided with.”
Sigmon’s wife, Amy, was hired this fall as a kindergarten teacher at Shoreline Elementary School.
Sigmon, who said he is aware the football coaching position will come with a lot of hard work, briefly told the school board what to expect from the Whitehall football program under his leadership.
“First of all, I think winning is important, but that’s not the priority. When you go ahead and you look at Whitehall High School football next year and the years to come you’re going to see a group of individuals that you can be proud of. Later in the future you will see better husbands, better fathers, and the best community members we can provide you. That’s my promise to you guys.”
Superintendent Jerry McDowell, when introducing Sigmon, told the school board that the nationwide search came down to the district having three local candidates who were interested in the position. McDowell said the lengthy interview process led by High School Principal Dale McKenzie and Athletic Director Greg Russell, and a committee of football staff and community members.
“Mr. Sigmon kept coming to the top. We heard about his character. and were quite impressed. And we really valued the year of work he has done inside the classroom. He has done excellent things in the art room and as assistant football coach.”
“It was interesting seeing all the applicants from all over having interest in Whitehall,” McKenzie added during Sigmon’s introduction. “That was encouraging to see. The committee did a nice job with parent input, and with assistants in program who want to continue. We look forward to great things.”
Assistant coaches who will continue with the football program are Dan Meinert and Keith Stratton.
Sigmon played high school football for the DeWitt Panthers, one of the top football programs in the state in the early 2000s. DeWitt is a Mid-Michigan community located on the north side of Lansing.
He played linebacker and offensive tackle for the Panthers. in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Sigmon played for Coach Rob Zimmerman who came to Cedar Springs to coach DeWitt.
“I talked to him today,” Sigmon shared after the school board meeting.
In 2001, Sigmon said his DeWitt team advanced to the state semifinals in Division 4 before losing to Chesaning, who ended up winning the division state title. In the final regular season game that year, DeWitt handed the state champions their only loss, a 28-27 thriller.
Sigmon then played at Division 3 Alma College as a defensive lineman.
After graduating from Alma, Sigmon moved to Florida where he coached high school football one year under former Ithaca High School Football Coach Jim Ahern, who started the football program at Palmetto Ridge High School after 22 years at Ithaca. Ahern has authored a book on the single-wing offense. Sigmon coached the next four years under Scott Jones, head coach at East Lee County High School. This fall Sigmon worked on the Whitehall junior varsity football staff.
The Whitehall head coaching position opened after the fall season when Cliff Sandee resigned to concentrate on coaching the Vikings’ outstanding wrestling program. He coached the varsity football team for two years, leading the Vikings to the playoffs (6-4) his first year. Last fall Whitehall had a 4-5 record.
Sandee took the Whitehall job two weeks before the 2011 season after Coach and Athletic Director, Dan Holden, accepted the athletic director position at Newaygo High School.