The Neosho R-5 Board of Education made things official on Tuesday as they voted to hire Dustin Baldwin as head football coach and Brandi Arthur as softball coach at Neosho High School.
Baldwin had been head football coach at Miller High School since 2009, leading his Cardinals to the state quarterfinals four years in a row, closing with a 12-1 record in 2012. In four seasons at Miller, Baldwin led the Cardinals to a 43-8 record.
This will be Baldwin’s second stint as a football coach at NHS. He spent 2008 as offensive coordinator under then head coach Shawn Flannigan, helping the Wildcats compile an 8-4 record. He’s also spent time in a variety of coaching positions at Mount Vernon (1999-2007), and one year at Republic as an assistant.
Baldwin was selected out of more than 30 applicants for the position from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas and Louisiana. Baldwin will be charged with resurrecting a football program that didn’t win any games last season, going 0-10 under Jared Schoonover.
“Certainly, I’m excited about the opportunity that the school board has given me,” Baldwin said. “I know Neosho is a community that has a lot of opportunity. We’re going to come in and try to be successful.”
Baldwin said his fondest memory from that 2008 season in Neosho — besides a district title and victory over Carthage — was the support the team felt from the community.
“Certainly, the community support,” he said. “The passion to be successful. I know the kids there when I was there worked extremely hard, and bought into what we were doing, and we had a lot of success. We’re going to try to replicate that. We’re going to have high expectations coming in. We’re looking to be successful quickly in getting it turned around.”
Baldwin said he’ll bring the spread offense back to Neosho, but personnel will dictate how much of it is used, or which variations of the sort, in the early going.
“We’re going to be a spread team, but we’re going to be multiple (looks) as well,” he said. “Obviously our team and personnel will dictate that as well. We’re going to have to be physical.
“There’s certainly a lot of work to do, but I’m excited to get down there and get to work.”
With that, Baldwin said he’ll always have fond memories of his time at Miller.
“It’s been a great situation,” he said of his time with the Cardinals. “The community and school have been great to me. The kids have worked very hard. I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve had at Miller. I look at it very fondly, the time I’ve been here, it’s been very fun.”
Page 2 of 3 - Neosho didn’t have to look far to find its next head softball coach, tabbing current NHS teacher, and former Crowder College head coach, Brandi Arthur to fill the position. Arthur served from July 2004-May 2008 with the Lady Roughriders before stepping away. Since departing Crowder, Arthur has spent time teaching in McDonald County at Pineville where she taught social studies and physical education.
Arthur then moved on to Neosho, where she’s been teaching health at the high school and eighth grade physical education at the junior high. While she hasn’t been coaching school ball since her time at Crowder, Arthur says she’s kept busy coaching travel ball in the area.
“I’ve been coaching softball ever since I quit at Crowder,” Arthur said. “I am definitely excited, and definitely wanting to build a quality softball program at Neosho.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, and hopefully the girls and the parents will buy in on the things that I’m going to ask them to do. If we’re going to have the buy-in that I hope we’re going to have, then I think we can start winning lots of games in two or three years.”
Another draw for Arthur was the brand new softball field constructed behind George Washington Carver Elementary School. And while she says she’s excited to get going on the new field, her team must match the new-look stadium.
“I’m definitely looking forward to playing at that nice field,” Arthur said. “It will make a difference. I want our team to understand to be proud of where you play, but I hope the girls understand that they’re going to have to work. We want to build a program where we’re not just going to have a great-looking field, but a great-looking program as well.”
Neosho Athletic Director Corey Roy said both coaches are a great fit for Neosho.
“We’re thrilled to death that we’re able to get two quality coaches like that,” Roy said. “With our new facility that our softball program has and then the addition of coach Arthur, our program has taken a big jolt and a lot of people have been very supportive of her.
“With Dustin, it’s a lot of the same things. I felt he was one of the hot, up-and-coming young coaches that everybody was looking for. I think that he brings a lot to the table as far as the X’s and O’s, but also being able to build strong relationships with the kids and build the program from the ground up while doing it the right way.”
Page 3 of 3 - The familiarity with both coaches should help ease the transition into black and gold.
“When we set out on this search, we weren’t necessarily looking for that,” Roy said. “But when these two came up we knew they were a great fit.”