Earlier this winter, Smyrna High School teacher and then football coach Clay Lloyd announced after seven years at the helm of the football program he would be stepping down as head coach. Just over a month later Lloyd’s successor has been chosen: fellow SHS teacher Mike Judy.

The Smyrna School Board approved Judy as the new football coach Feb. 19 in a meeting at Clayton Intermediate School. Judy is also the boys lacrosse coach.

“When you receive news like this, it is hard to keep your emotions under control. To be selected from a pool of great candidates is truly humbling,” Judy said regarding the approval.

Judy takes over for Lloyd, who had coached in the Smyrna football program for 21 years total. Lloyd said his decision to step down was a personal one and that 21 years is a long time to coach a team.

“This was the toughest decision I have had to make. I felt it would be good for me and the program if I stepped down and allowed someone else to take over the program,” Lloyd said.

And Lloyd thinks Judy is a great choice for the district.

“He takes pride in what he does and has the values and principles you need to be a successful head football coach. The football program is in great hands and I look forward to supporting him and all my former players next year and years to come. Eagle Pride,” Lloyd said.

Judy is entering his eighth season as a coach on the team and has served as a varsity assistant coach. Before coming to Smyrna, he coached football in various positions in schools in Virginia and was a graduate assistant at Wesley College.

He played football at Wesley College and Dover High School. When he joined the SHS staff in 2007, Judy said he did so with no expectations other than to immerse himself in the community and to do what he loves to do. He said the coaching staff has invested a tremendous amount of time, effort, energy and emotion into the program, and the kids and community have reciprocated.

“When the position came open, I jumped at the opportunity to fulfill this vision of creating a program that the school, community, and most of all the kids can be proud to be a part of,” Judy said.

His priority for the team is to establish a vision shared from top to bottom. Judy said the team members will reestablish their identity to create pride and investment in the program so there’s no doubt of “who we are, where we are going, and how we are going to get there.”

A challenge for the football staff is to overcome the stigma that Smyrna has a losing football program. He said wins and loss are deceiving, and if you allow them to linger they pull your program into the gutter.

“I am a solution-oriented person and am surrounding myself with the same type of people. We will focus on the journey to success and not on failures from the past,” Judy said.

His three goals for the program, Judy said are simple: make the community proud, create a team that wins in the classroom and is afforded the opportunity to thrive at the college level, and win on the field.

To be successful, Judy said it will take a complete buy-in from the players, staff and administration. He said people will be pushed well beyond their comfort zones because that’s what it takes to win. The first step is to attack this off-season as if it’s the fourth quarter of the state championship game.

“If that’s where we want to go then we will practice and prepare like champions,” Judy said.

Even though Judy is taking over as head coach of the football team doesn’t mean his lacrosse coaching days are over.

“Many special coaches have done it successfully before and I am fully committed to this journey,” Judy said. “Luckily I have an amazing wife [Deb] who supports me in all my endeavors and allows me to balance the rigors of teaching and coaching.”