After Todd Smith stepped down as head coach of the High School South football team in December, the search was on for a new leader to take the helm. Veteran coach Skip Edwards recently accepted the role. Edwards, a health and physical education teacher at Holmdel High School, has been a head coach since 1983.

“I’m very excited about starting at West Windsor-Plainsboro South,” he said. “The players have demonstrated a great desire to play the game. The parent club and administration at the school are very supportive and very excited.”

Edwards and his squad made the playoffs three times and reached the state title game once during his 12-year stint at Holmdel. During his four years at Hightstown High School, the Rams won their conference four times. Their two playoff appearances were their first in 27 years.

Edwards said he was a bit of a “rug rat” growing up in Long Branch. His father, Howard, was an electrician and his mother, Jo, was a stay-at-home mom who eventually became the Long Branch personnel director. His father, Edwards said, was a blue-collar worker who never complained about going to work and went in even if he didn’t feel up to it. Due to his mother’s position, she was well-respected in the community, and people still reminisce about her .

“They provided everything for me and my two sisters,” he said. “We never wanted for anything. It really makes me appreciate a lot of things in life.”

Edwards’ father also played basketball, and Edwards did that and more.

“I was a backyard kid,” he said. “Whatever the season was, that’s the sport I was playing.”

That continued in high school and college at Glassboro State University. Edwards played football as a quarterback and kicker; at one point in college, he held the school record for the longest field goal. He said his coaches at both levels affected him.

“My high school coach presented me with an opportunity to kick a field goal in the last game of the year,” he said. “In college, Coach (Richard) Wackar was a big influence on me. He was a very positive role model.”

He hopes to provide the same leadership to his players at South.

“I treat every player as I would have wanted my coach to treat me,” he said. “I treat every player as if he were my own son. There are going to be days when not everybody goes home happy, but we’ll iron that all out and come back excited.”

Edwards currently lives in Ocean Township with his wife, Tammy. They have three children: Nicole, 23, Kristen, 21, and Michael, 19. He is in his 27th year teaching at Holmdel and says he is nearing retirement. It was an incident with Michael 10 years ago that reshaped his philosophy on life. At nine years old, Michael was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

“We didn’t know if he was going to make it, but he did,” Edwards said. “He’s my hero. To face the challenges that he did as a nine-year-old and pull through that gave me my motivation and desire for life. Someone like that gives you insight to appreciate what you have. Michael’s always in the back of my mind.”

#b#Tennis Coach#/b#

After six years of coaching both boys’ and girls’ tennis at High School South, Richard Arnold is making the move over to High School North. Arnold, who has been in the school district since 2001, was named North girls’ tennis head coach just before the start of pre-season.

Arnold, 57, attended Bridgewater East High School where he went undefeated in 82 matches of regular-season play. He went on to Jacksonville University in Florida, where he continued his tennis career. Arnold coached Ty Tucker, the current Ohio State University men’s tennis head coach, to a 12-and-under national championship and led an Ohio high school girls’ squad to a state title. He previously worked as an assistant tennis pro in Zanesville, Ohio and at the New York Athletic Club.