CARL CLARK has been where Rich Skeen is going. And he's got two words for the Sissonville coach: Good luck.
In early November, Skeen sets out as the basketball coach at Sissonville. Not just the boys coach or the girls coach, mind you, but both. At the same time.
The 44-year-old Skeen has been coaching the Indians boys for seven seasons, and in 2010 took the program to the Class AA state tournament for the first time in 28 years. But he upped the challenge last month with his own sort of "and one'' move.
He's agreed to replace Rick Wallace as coach of the school's girls basketball team, and will thus coach both squads this winter - a rare form of double duty among state schools.
Earlier this summer, Greenbrier County icon Jim Justice - who has coached the girls team at Greenbrier East for 11 seasons - also took over as the Spartans boys coach. Also, Paden City's Fred King coached both squads in that Wetzel County town from 2005-07.
Clark also performed the feat at Capital for one season (1995-96). He actually coached both squads the previous year, too, but girls basketball in West Virginia was competing in its final fall season in 1994, then switched to a winter sport the following school year. That's when Clark found himself doing a double dribble.
"It's hard,'' Clark said of what awaits Skeen. "It's not going to be an easy job. For four, five months, it's nonstop. I went from one practice to the other and then game days - you would have a game just about every day.''
Skeen got a taste of that during the approved three-week summer practice period that wrapped up July 2.
His girls team played 29 games in that period and the boys 23. Skeen traveled with each squad to a team camp
on different weeks, getting help from assistant coaches for the other team while he was out of town.
"We had a pretty good June,'' Skeen said. "I know the summer's not anywhere near as intense as the regular season, but I think I know what it will be like this year. One night, I had five games.''
Skeen said he's received nothing but support from the players on both squads, as well as the Sissonville community.
"We had a meeting in the auditorium back in March for all the players and parents,'' Skeen said. "We told them how we thought it would work and we said we know they would have some concerns, and then we opened it up for questions. They didn't have any questions. They all said it sounds like it'll work. If there have been any negatives [voiced], I haven't heard it. The kids haven't expressed any.''
Skeen hasn't shied away from talk about potential problems that could arise with his dual position. He figures that winter weather is about the only worry that could snowball into a major issue. Every Kanawha County school seemingly trudged through a handful of postponements last season.