Dana Rhea is a bit surprised to find himself changing jobs right now, but it’s a chance he couldn’t pass up.
After five years of leading Tupelo’s softball team, Rhea will be the new head coach at Kossuth. His hire received school board approval on Monday.
Rhea was 83-35 at Tupelo and led the Lady Wave to the Class 6A state championship in 2017. He was named the Daily Journal Coach of the Year following that season.
Rhea said he was “approached” about the Kossuth opening, and while he admitted to being caught off guard, he spent the last several days speaking with athletics director Brian Kelly. And he liked what he saw in Kossuth.
“I’m a small-town guy, and Kossuth seems right with my characteristics and my personality,” Rhea said.
“Coach Kelly, he and I spent a lot of time together over the last week or so, and it just seems to fit with what I want right now.”
Prior to Tupelo, Rhea was head coach at Nettleton, where he started the fast-pitch program in 2001. He led the Lady Tigers through 2006, then was an assistant coach before again taking the reins in 2012.
In his second stint, Rhea compiled a record of 127-40 over four years with three trips to the Class 3A title series. He was an assistant coach with the 2011 team that won the state title.
One thing that drew him to Kossuth is its similarities to Nettleton.
“It’s definitely a perk to go to a school where softball’s important,” Rhea said. “It’s a big deal there. Coming from Nettleton, where it was a huge deal there, I’m excited about what Kossuth has to offer in that category.”
He was also head coach for Nettleton’s slow-pitch team, winning championships in 2009 and 2011.
Rhea replaces Robin Stebbins, who resigned after two seasons.
Stebbins was also head volleyball coach this past year. That job remains open, and Rhea will serve as an assistant coach.
“I think I’ve done all I can do at Tupelo,” Rhea said. “Tupelo’s a good place. It’s just time for something different in my career right now.”