Jim Mulhern, Washington-Lee's football coach the past four years, resigned earlier this month and Athletic Director William Weisenburger said it is now time to revamp the Generals' football program.
Mulhern had a 10-38-2 record, including 3-7 in 1985. When the season ended, only 26 players remained on the varsity, and five of them were injured.
Weisenburger said Mulhern and three of his six assistants submitted their resignations without detailed explanations.
"Jim put in a lot of time; I know it was frustrating for him," said Weisenburger.
This week, Weisenburger began interviews among the eight persons who have already submitted applications. The 1974 Washington-Lee graduate said he will keep searching until he finds someone who can bring the Generals back to the level of 1976, their last winning season, when they were led by Eric Sievers, now a tight end with the San Diego Chargers.
"We are pretty much looking to start over," said Weisenburger, who has been athletic director for three years. "I've listened to the arguments that we have too many foreign students among the school's population, and that keeps us from having the numbers to be competitive. I don't buy that. We can look just down the road to Stuart High School. It has almost the same exact enrollment breakdown with foreign students, and it's been successful.
"I've been around here long enough to see all the ups and downs. We have kids who want to win, and there are kids in the school right now who can make a difference, but were not playing. We've turned things around in basketball and track recently. Now, we're looking to do the same thing in football."
Five of the six girls basketball teams in the Northern District have new coaches this season. Although Melissa Trowbridge has done a remarkable job changing the fortunes at Lake Braddock, no coach in the Northern Region has accomplished more than Tina Skidmore has at Oakton.
The former George Washington University assistant took over a team that finished 1-21 last season. She produced victories in Oakton's first four games this season, and has the Cougars (6-5) competitve in the region's strongest district.
"It's been the easiest job I've ever had," said Skidmore, who played four seasons and was a graduate assistant coach at Edinboro State (Pa.). "After so many losses last season, they were discouraged and just wanted to get it over with. But they want to learn. They listen and would stay all night if they could."
Although Skidmore does not keep her players until midnight, she does keep them from 7 to 9 p.m. Because of her job as the director of a Fairfax day-care center that's when she can hold practice.
Jill Bartley, a 5-foot-9 senior forward, has led Oakton's rejuvenation averaging 17 points, most from outside.
Junior Erin McKee, a 6-2 center, has averaged 10 points and, along with 6-1 forward Samantha Stair, gives Oakton one of the region's tallest front lines.
Cathy Edmonds, a 5-5 sophomore point guard, has helped the Cougars play under control.
"I didn't come in and do anything miraculous," said Skidmore. "My style is very positive. I'm not a screamer, but when I talk, they hear me."
Skidmore said winning has made life easier for her players, on and off the court. "Every game is still a monumental challenge because of their past," she said. "They aren't flying too high because of the way we started, but they now know what they can do. People are finally taking an interest in them."
Midway through the season, the schools that have been dominating the Region in combined boys and girls basketball are South Lakes and T.C. Williams.
The Seahawks are a combined 18-4, with their girls undefeated through 11. The Titans, led by their 10-1 girls team, were a combined 17-4.