BLUEFIELD — After announcing the addition of 12 sports, including the return of football the focus for Bluefield State College, turned to hiring the head coaches.
The first coach has been officially hired and it is former NFL assistant coach and Super Bowl champion Tony Coaxum.
There were over 200 people interested in the position but Coaxum stood out from the rest for many reasons.
“He was just the perfect fit for us,” said Bluefield State College President Robin Capehart.
Even though there have not been players putting on Bluefield State jerseys since 1980, there is a lot of history on the gridiron for the historically black college.
The college, then known as the Bluefield Colored Institute, won the Black national championships in 1927 and 1928 going undefeated for 21 consecutive games.
“Today Bluefield State College makes history, again. Today Bluefield State College has come back to its roots. Today is a renaissance to excellence on and off the field of play,” said Reverend Garry Moore, Chairman of the Bluefield State College Board of Governors, during the press conference.
Games are planned to begin next fall for the Big Blues as Coaxum has a lot of work to do before then with his focus on making sure to integrate himself in the community and build a team as good off the field as on.
“We’re going to make Bluefield, West Virginia, proud of the team we’re going to put together,” Coaxum said.
The Charleston, South Carolina, native comes to Bluefield from the University of Northern Colorado where he was in his first year as the special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach.
The West Point graduate won a Super Bowl ring in 2016 as an assistant coach for the Denver Broncos. He spent seven years as an assistant coach at Army prior that with a year being an assistant with the Baltimore Ravens sandwiched in between those two places. What stood out about Coaxum during the hiring process for the search committee was not only his vast experience coaching at all three levels of the game but his qualities off the field.
Coax sees his biggest strength as a football coach being a leader and with his background Capehart and Derrick Price, interim Athletic Director and head men’s basketball coach, feel he can implement the discipline needed to get the program restarted on the right foot.
“You want somebody that’s going to lead these guys and make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do on and off the field and we felt that was Tony Coaxum,” said Price.
Bringing back the football team was part of a vision Capehart and the rest of the administration have for Bluefield State with them seeing Coaxum as someone who can be a key player in helping that be achieved.
“He brings the integrity, the heart and the passion it takes to embrace our vision of the future of Bluefield State and provide outstanding leadership in pursuing that vision,” Capehart said.
For Coaxum, he is now tasked with building a roster of players and a coaching staff that fits the character he wants the Big Blues to have of being the best possible people in the classroom and community while playing like ‘maniacs’ on the gridiron.
“I cannot wait to get our players in here and get this coaching staff and go out in the community and represent Bluefield State,” Coaxum said.
The addition of all of the sports, especially football, will help change the atmosphere around the campus.
“One of the things it will do is it’ll bring a new spirit to the campus both among the students, the alumni,” Capehart said.
Football is one of 12 sports that are set to be added for the 2021-22 school year as the college looks to expand what it offers to prospective students.
“We want more opportunity for students to come here, take advantage of our high quality education but also play the sport that they love,” Capehart said.
Filling the rosters on those teams will bring around 250 new students to Bluefield State and to do that head coaches have to hired which they are in the middle of doing. Getting the football coach sorted out was the priority for the college.
Bringing the 12 teams to Bluefield State are part of a plan that the college is undertaking led by Capehart including having on-campus housing for the first time in 52 years.
“I feel safe to say that Bluefield State College is headed in the right direction. We have great leadership, we have great support, the city of Bluefield is right behind us,” Price said.
— Contact Eric Walker at ewalker@bdtonline. com