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Oxford hires boys soccer, softball coaches

Oxford High has found its next head boys soccer coach — and will have a new softball coach next year, too.

Charles Sabatier has been hired as the boys soccer coach while Tabitha Beard is replacing Steve Blackmon as head softball coach following Blackmon’s late-season resignation. The Oxford School District approved both hires during its board meeting Monday.

Beard comes from Tupelo as an assistant to take over for Blackmon, who resigned his post with just a few weeks left in his fourth season at the helm. Blackmon will still teach physical education at Della Davidson Elementary but said he chose to resign his coaching position after four straight losing seasons left him feeling it was time to give someone else a shot.

“I told (my bosses) it’s all about the players,” Blackmon said. “I just honestly felt after four years of working on the program, in that same vein, the best thing would be to step aside and let somebody else take over. It would be in the best interest of the program I thought. In four years, I was disappointed and frustrated with the progress we made with my own expectations. I don’t know if I could take the program any further.”

Experience winning

Before her one season at Tupelo, Beard was the head coach at New Hope, leading the Trojans to five straight slow-pitch state titles from 2007-11 and an appearance in the MHSAA Class 5A fast-pitch title series in 2012.

“We looked long and hard,” Oxford athletic director Mike Martin said of the softball hire. “I talked with a lot of coaches and interviewed at least a half dozen on the phone and had four down for a face-to-face (interview). We just found the right person for the job.”

Sabatier’s hiring comes three months after Jonathan Branch abruptly resigned after a three-year stint as the soccer coach. Sabatier, whom Martin said had already been approved to teach in the district at a previous board meeting, previously spent time coaching in the Virginia prep ranks.

Branch led the Chargers to the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs each of his three seasons at the helm but said at the time of his resignation the time commitment was too much for he and his wife with a second child on the way.

“(Sabatier) had all the qualities we were looking for,” Martin said. “Experience as well as the right mix for our teaching as well.”