When school resumes in the fall at Lebanon High School, five new faces will be on campus to fill the six recent coaching vacancies.
And while players and the community have come to know head football coach Sam Harp, having been at the school for the past few months, others have yet to be hired.
That should change within the next two weeks, according to assistant principal and athletics director Darian Brown. He said baseball, softball and wrestling head coaches should be hired soon.
And then there’s Kempess Villafana.
Brown said Villafana was hired to coach both the boys and girls soccer teams.
“We are excited to get him,” Brown said. “We had tryouts with the girls and had 27 show up. We feel like he will be a jumpstart to our program.”
A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Villafana first arrived in Lebanon in 2007 as a freshman at Cumberland University on soccer scholarship. He earned the honor of second-team all-conference before an off-season knee injury kept him on the bench his junior year. Just a couple of games into his senior year, Villafana suffered another knee injury that ended his college-playing career.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity because of a huge passion for the game,” Villafana said. “The fact that I can’t play, this just allows me to do the next best thing. My plans were to pursue a professional career in soccer, but that’s not going to happen.”
Since earning a degree in criminal justice from Cumberland in 2011, Villafana has been an assistant coach with the Tennessee Soccer Club in Brentwood, as well as a volunteer with the Lebanon Youth Soccer Association. He also coached a season with Chattanooga United.
“Just me being able to come back to my roots and what I was accustomed to is very exciting,” Villafana said. “I’ll be coaching where I consider home and continue to work with Lebanon Youth Soccer Association.”
Villafana held tryouts for the girls squad June 5-6 and is pleased with the results. He’s yet to work with the boys, but anticipates that will happen soon once his role with the school is finalized.
“The team is looking pretty good for Lebanon soccer,” Villafana said. “Player-wise we look good, and we should have a good season. I am looking for a bunch of good things out of this group of girls.”
Brown said Villafana will be a teacher’s aide, working in Lebanon High School’s crisis intervention program.