LaGrange College introduces new football coach

Published 9:45 am Friday, February 3, 2023

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The LaGrange community gave a warm welcome to new LaGrange College football coach Wesley Dodson on Thursday. 

The Panthers hosted an introductory press conference on the LaGrange College campus to introduce the community to their new coach as well as introduce Dodson to the community.

“We are extremely excited to have coach here,” athletic director Terlynn Olds said. “He brings over 20 years of coaching experience to LaGrange … the campus, the community, our student body and our student athletes are excited to have coach here.”

Dodson comes to LaGrange with a wealth of experience. Dodson previously worked at Hampden-Sydney since 2007, first as an assistant coach and then as defensive coordinator since 2008. While Dodson brings experience on the football field, this will be the first time he’s served as a head coach at this level. It is a challenge he looks forward to taking head on.

“My vision for this year is to start building a foundation and start getting these guys to know each other,” Dodson said. “We have to go out and get a recruiting class. We have to bring in some high character guys. This is a conference we should be able to compete in. Our expectations are if we can do things right in the offseason and take it into the season we have a good chance to compete and win some football games.”

It was a long and exhaustive search for LaGrange College to replace Earl Chambers who served as head coach of the Panthers from 2018-2022. After looking through 150 applicants, the Panthers locked in on Dodson who brings a vision to the program that aligns with the overall vision of the athletic department and the school as a whole. 

“We really all had the same kind of vision for this program,” Dodson said. 

“We are trying to develop a family. We want to be closer and more connected than in the past. Olds and President [Susanna] Baxter vision for this college and this football program is to be one community, one family. That was one of the main reasons I found this job so attractive and wanted to come and work with them.”

Despite only being in LaGrange for about 48 hours before the press conference, Dodson has already reached out to meet some of the players. The players that have met him have already bought into the message he has brought to the program.

“What sold me on him was that he wanted to work with everybody from the players to the community,” junior football player Quenton Green said. “He had a plan for us players not just as athletes but with academics and community outreach, which are big parts of what we do here at LaGrange College.”

The general vibe around campus has been a positive one as a new energy in the football program has brought out a new energy from the students on campus.

“It’s exciting,” said Parker Lovett, a member of the basketball team and the president of the sports management club. “I know a lot of the football players and people around campus and the football season was a struggle this year. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen guys so excited about getting a new coach.” 

Now that Dodson has arrived in LaGrange, it is all about building a culture and a sense of a community. It will not be an easy task but Dodson sees challenges to meet, not obstacles to avoid. 

“We want to change the culture here,” Dodson said. “We are going to get the team together on Monday. We want to start building that culture from day one.”

The enthusiasm Dodson has for turning around the Panther football program is infectious. De’Queze Fryer finished his last season for LaGrange College in the fall and departs the school as the most accomplished player in the school’s history. He was a part of the search committee and was on hand to see Dodson introduced as the new head coach.

“This team has meant everything to me,” Fryer said. “I love LaGrange period but this school and football team has helped me grow so much as a person.”

He feels like Dodson is just what the team needs to head into the future.

“It’s a blessing for the program,” Fryer said. “He brings a new energy to the whole community.”

Dodson is already in town and will bring his family down in the near future as they are eager to join him in his new adventure. While he had everybody swooning on Thursday, the honeymoon period will only last so long as Dodson gets set to change the culture of an entire program.