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Head coach hired

We’re talking about a whole program...from elementary to high school. - Athletic Director Robert James
Bear Nation will welcome a familiar face to lead their football program this fall. Logan Schwalm has been selected as the head football coach, confirms Athletic Director Robert James. 
 
Schwalm was the Bears’ head football coach the last time they played a District Championship game in 2019. He has served as a head coach for four years and as an assistant coach for five years, James reports. He left the Willow Springs School District to make the leap into administration as the Athletic Director in El Dorado Springs in 2021. He returned to Willow Springs for the 2022-2023 school year, where he currently works as the assistant principal in the elementary school. 
 
Schwalm gets the job, “after a lengthy period of interviews,” as James put it in a statement. In an interview with Howell County News, James dispelled any suggestion that Schwalm’s re-hire was the plan when the administration decided not to reassign head coaching duties to Travis Payne in January. 
 
Coaching positions are administrative decisions, not school board choices. In this case, the decision makers were James himself, High School Principal Nick Schmitt, and Superintendent Dr. Marty Spence. Though Schwalm is a member of the district’s administration, James said he was never involved in the coach hire process. 
 
“I’m going to bring the best coach I can,” James told Howell County News. “He’s the best fit at this point. I swing for home runs every time there’s a position available.”
 
An assistant coach in the program, Glen Cox, interviewed for the head coach position, but Willow Springs, “decided to go in another direction,” Cox said. He has since signed a contract with Cabool for their head coaching position. 
 
“You root for your staff to be able to advance,” James said about Cox’s departure from Willow Springs, “but we’re always sad to lose them.”
 
The head coach position has been of considerable interest, and many have questioned the choice of a member of the district’s own administration as well as a member of the AD’s family. Schwalm is James’ cousin-in-law.* 
 
James was unequivocal in his response that the connection has no bearing on the decision. Schwalm has had no unfair advantage, he said. 
 
“For a job this high-profile, I want to put the best person possible with the kids,” he said. “I want the kids to be taken care of.”
 
Another addition to this year’s coaching staff is sure to catch the attention of long-time Bears fans. Ian Ary has signed on as assistant coach. Ary is the youngest son of legendary coach Steve Ary. 
 
“That’s home run for us,” James said. “Ian is coming to us fresh out of college. This is his first coaching job. He is passionate about football coaching and training kids. That’s what he went to [Evangel] for… It’s a very exciting hire for our kids and community.”
 
“We’re talking about a whole program – from elementary to high school. It’s hard not to think about your Friday night lights, but it’s really gotta be ‘what are we doing with the kids in the middle school’…It’s about sustaining a program.”
 
 
*The print version of this story incorrectly refers to Schwalm as James’ brother-in-law.
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