John Blake named boys soccer coach at West Forsyth
Published 9:27 am Tuesday, February 6, 2024
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
CLEMMONS – John Blake has been a successful soccer coach in this area for a long time.
He’s just decided he wants a bigger challenge.
Blake, who has been the boys and girls soccer coach at Ledford, was named the head boys soccer coach at West Forsyth. Blake was introduced Monday night at the West Forsyth Media Center by Principal Kevin Spainhour and Athletic Director Mike Pennington. The event was set up as part of a meet-and-greet with players and parents.
“I think the friendships and relationships in the community of Clemmons,” Blake said of what intrigued him about the position at West Forsyth. “I think that was very enticing to come here, and the tradition that West Forsyth has. In the early 2000s, I played soccer against West. They had great teams, went to the (NCHSAA Class 4-A) final four. They’ve kept that standard and tradition over the last few years and it’s just a good opportunity and hopefully I can uphold that they’ve set.”
Blake, 37, who played in high school at North Davidson and graduated in 2005, and went to college at Appalachian State, will replace Jeffrey Williams, who decided to just be the girls coach at West Forsyth after being named to that position last June. Blake, who spent 12 years at Ledford as the boys coach and seven years as the girls coach, must finish his leave time at Ledford and will begin on March 1 at West Forsyth, while also teaching social studies and Psychology.
“We’re tight,” Blake said of his relationship with Williams. “We’ve built it over a competitive environment the last few years. Ledford played West Forsyth in the past five years, I think three or four times. We’ve beaten each other back and forth. So, it was one of those, I really admired his program. And he does a lot of the same things we do at Ledford.
“So, the transition there was very important. His standards, and principles and core values were something that I wanted.”
As Blake stated, the two teams have met. They met as recently as last September when Ledford played at West Forsyth. Ledford won that game 1-0.
“He’s been the head of the social-studies department for the past four years,” Spainhour said. “So, he’s a leader, both athletically and academically, which fits our philosophy here at West Forsyth very well.
“So, we’re excited to have him come on board on March 1. It will be his official start date in our classrooms here as a social studies teacher at West Forsyth. And then will begin then putting together some offseason plans and some workouts and things for his soccer team. He will be coaching boys soccer only.”
Ledford finished last season 11-8-4 overall and 7-2-1 in the Mid-Piedmont 3-A. Ledford lost to Belmont South Point 4-4 and 4-2 in a shootout in the second round of the NCHSAA Class 3-A tournament last November.
“I hadn’t thought about (leaving Ledford),” Blake said. “Honestly, Mr. Spainhour alluded to that, I didn’t really want to. And then I just, I interviewed to see what it was like. And then, the culture is so good here, not the team, but the school. It’s just a great environment.”
According to Blake, he has already told his players at Ledford that he has accepted the position at West Forsyth.
“It’s one of the toughest conversations of my career,” he said. “I made sure I told them first. The boys at Ledford and the girls, they’re upset, but they have established such a great culture and standard. I mean, we’ve gone to the final four and had so many great experiences, but the big thing about that is the relationships on the field. They’ve lasted a lifetime. Some of them are my best friends from the past and hopefully that continues.”
The West Forsyth boys soccer team had one the best seasons in school history last fall, finishing 20-1-2 overall and 14-0 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. West Forsyth didn’t lose a game last fall until the second round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs when it lost 3-1 to Charlotte Independence.
“I liked the challenge,” Blake said. “It’s uncomfortable, which is something I want to dive into and test myself as a coach, but also, hopefully bring them to another level.”
Being a fresh face to the program, Blake hopes to push the Titans to the next level.
“It’s not about wins and losses,” he said. “I think it’s about, for them, playoff runs. And so for me, guiding them as far as they can into the playoffs – that’s third, fourth, fifth round, all the way to the finals – I think the talent is definitely here. Something needs to click there, and maybe it’s something I can bring.”
In addition to Blake’s many accolades, he was the head coach for the West last July in the East-West All-Star Game. Last August, he was also named the boys varsity basketball coach at Ledford. As of Monday night, the Ledford boys basketball team is 6-14 overall and 2-4 in the conference.
“It’s my first year (as the boys varsity basketball coach at Ledford),” Blake said. “It was a good transition. It’s been a good challenge, and it’s something that has made me a better coach, for sure. But it’s kept me busy. I’ve been extremely busy, three varsity sports back-to-back-to-back. It’s no easy task.”
Blake and his family intend to continue living in Davidson County. His wife Ashley is a teacher at Ledford Middle School. His daughter Skarlette is 17 and a senior at Ledford High School, with plans on graduating in June. His son Jackson is 10.
“This was a very tough decision,” Blake said. “I’m leaving a very tough place. My daughter’s a senior at Ledford High School, so with that being said I’m coming here to coach you guys and leaving them behind in a sense and bringing them with us.
“We will be 100 percent West Forsyth, and we’re a package deal. So, as we come in here, they’ll be wearing green and gold. They’ll be at every ball game. My son Jackson will be on the sidelines. Like, we are a family starting today.”