Updated: Feb 10
Kevin Wald, previously at John Paul II in Ridgeland, SC (above), returns to South Florida to take over the Olympic Heights football program.
The 2018-2019 school year has been one of change at Olympic Heights, ranging from the school getting a new principal to changes at a few of the athletic programs’ head coaches. One of those coaching changes involves the OH football team with Kevin Wald taking over the helm of the program.
Baz Alfred, who served as the Lions head coach for the past two seasons, stepped down from the position in early March to take the same position at Jupiter Christian. Alfred was a critical piece in turning around a Lions’ football program that was winless in 2014 when he came to OH as the offensive coordinator under newly hired head coach Chris Kokell in 2015.
The Lions have had three consecutive seasons at or above a .500 winning percentage, and the departing coach believes the program will continue to grow. Speaking to The Palm Beach Post, Alfred said, “We’ve been a middle-of-the-road football program and we’re right on the cusp of being a great football program, and they just need to take that next step.”
Alfred leaves OH with a head coaching record of 10-9, but he is also leaving behind a school that he cares for deeply, noting that “Olympic Heights will always be in my heart.”
On April 17, OH announced that it had hired Kevin Wald to replace Alfred, making him the football program’s seventh head coach since 2011, with none of his six predecessors staying longer than two years. Wald has been a high school football coach for 18 years, the last 11 as a head coach. Wald began his head coaching career at John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce where his teams went 11-9 in three seasons. He then moved on to Hilton Head Preparatory School in South Carolina, going 26-17 over four seasons.
Wald’s most impressive stop, however, may have been his three-year stint at John Paul II in South Carolina, where he built the program up from an 0-10 season (the first season in which the school played 11-man football) to a 13-10 record over the next two seasons, coupled with a regional title and an appearance in the SCISA 2-A title game. Hearing of his departure, John Paul II’s administration applauded Wald’s efforts, saying “We are disappointed to lose someone of coach Wald’s caliber as a coach…and as a positive role model. We expect him to have incredible success.”
Wald has similar expectations of himself and his new program. He has already shown his dedication to Olympic Heights, hosting a meeting with the team on April 18 to introduce himself to the players before the start of spring practice, a move that has many of his players excited. “Coaching changes are difficult,” says OH junior Jackson Mace, last season’s starting right-tackle, “but we are putting our trust in Coach Wald and are eager to get back onto the field. I am very confident coach Wald will shape us into a winning team for years to come.”
Wald has experience coaching on both sides of the ball, but believes his strength lies on the offensive side of the ball. Wald prides himself on his “Pistol” offense, a hybrid offense where the quarterback lines up four-yards behind the line-of-scrimmage with the running back immediately behind him. This type of offense gives the quarterback enough time and distance to make deep downfield reads on passing plays while also giving the running-back enough distance off the line-of-scrimmage to make the cuts necessary to find open field on running plays.
In terms of his expectations for the players, coach Wald wants to help develop the players into the “best version of themselves” and engender high-character men within his locker room. “We want a championship culture. We want to be the best dressed, the toughest, [and] the most accountable,” Wald says, “And when you do that, that’s when you’re ready to fly.”
While coach Wald is excited to get started as the coach, he understands the importance of both short-term and long-term success “I feel I can see things three or four years down the road and not just focus on the present-I want to be that visionary.”
Long-term success based on a long-term commitment is something that the OH community has been longing for. To that end, Wald had these words for Lions fans: “I want everyone out there to know that I’m going to give it my all to make us the best program we can be.”