The American Leadership Academy has found their first ever head football coach in Robin Bacon.
Lexington’s American Leadership Academy, a new charter school set to open in the fall, has found its first-ever head football coach in Robin Bacon. Bacon was most recently a head coach at Spring Valley (2015-2022).
For Coach Bacon, taking the job was an exciting proposition after he learned about the school and some of their philosophical foundations that aligned with how he was raised and with how his prior teams were built.
“I’m really excited and it’s neat,” Bacon told the Chronicle. “I studied up and read about it. The way I grew up, I was an army brat, and just kind of reading about the culture that they want to build there and it’s how our football programs have done it at A.C. Flora, Spring Valley, Richland Northeast and other places I’ve been at before. It’s a great academic opportunity for kids and athletic facilities that are gonna be really nice when they get finished. And then just the environment, I think it’s great. I have twins, so If I were to go back and say ‘hey, where would I want my kids to go to school and what kind of school would it be?’, this is the one. So I think that’s the thing that attracted me more than the athletic part.”
According to academy Athletic Director Ray Canady, the hiring of Coach Bacon was a home run hire and was the best case scenario.
“He was my number one target,” Canady said. “I had a list of five names. He was the first person I thought of. He and I have known each other through coaching circles. With me, I’ve been coaching in the area for 30 years. He has been in the area coaching in several different roles as a head coach, assistant coach and athletic director for around 34 years so we’ve known each other…we had several conversations and the more we talked, the more we saw that it would be a really good fit and good timing for both of us.”
Canady also mentioned that Bacon was an ideal fit when it came to the new school’s core principles.
“At ALA, we have our RAISE values: respect, accountability, integrity, service and excellence. And for us, we were looking to hire someone that was a good fit for us. When you look at the values and leadership qualities that we’re going to be teaching our students, we want our faculty, staff and coaches to emulate. Robin Bacon was the first name that came to mind. He is a successful coach here in the Columbia area but more importantly, he’s a better person, a quality person in what he is and what he stands for. At ALA, he is going to be one of our Dean of Students where he will help set the culture and be working closely with the students at our school and I couldn’t think of a better person for that position.”
As for the future play on the field, Bacon wants to build around a “culture of trust” and a championship level defense to pair with a balanced offensive attack.
“I think the biggest thing is building a situation where we’re going to be really strong on defense,” Bacon said. “I think my philosophy has always been that you gotta be great on defense and that championships are won with defense. We’re bringing an exciting style of offense where we can showcase our kids’ athletic ability to college coaches. We’re probably going to be run-pass 50/50 so we’ll be able to expose kids to things they probably haven’t had at the other high schools.”
Bacon wants to showcase a wide variety of skills from his players that can eventually help his players move on to play collegiately.
“The biggest thing is building for the future. I think we’re going to be able to create an environment in a school where kids are really excited about playing football,” Bacon said. “And establishing a footprint of what we want to do offensively, defensively and on special teams. We’re lucky that we’re coming in in the middle of that realignment period where we are an at-large and won’t know what we’ll be the following year, either 1A or 2A depending on our numbers. But you know, I think the biggest thing is creating a fun environment. We want the kids to have fun and they’re going to enjoy playing here. We’re going to expose them to some of the top programs in the country. I have kids that played at Alabama, kids that played at Georgia, Clemson and I’ve got three or four at South Carolina right now, Kentucky, Georgia Southern and I got one at West Virginia. We have a great relationship with the college coaches and I think that’s going to open some doors for a lot of kids who want to use football as a way to get to the next level.”
The academy announced the hiring of Tyson Bouknight to be their first ever boys basketball coach.
Bouknight has served as an assistant coach at White Knoll since 2020 and was a varsity assistant at Lexington High School before that.
Per American Leadership’s press release, Bouknight played on Lexington High School’s 1995-1996 state championship team and earned a plethora of honors that year including All-Region, All-State and All-Area Player of the Year.
The academy also announced the hiring of the school’s first ever volleyball coach, Sandra Shumpert Dickert.
Dickert comes to American Leadership after serving as the head volleyball coach at Irmo High School. Per the school’s press release, Dickert led Irmo to consecutive state championships in 1998 and 1999, finished as the state runner-up in 2006, holds the school record for most consecutive wins and earned Region Coach of the Year honors 13 times.
Dickert also has a track record of building programs from scratch. Before her success at Irmo, she built the volleyball program at Gilbert from the ground up and took the Indians to two state championship game appearances in her six years there. She also coached at Newberry College and Lexington High School.
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