He came home.
In a stunning move, Mark Fischer was announced as the new head coach for the Louisa Lions in a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 12, returning to the position he left on April 10, 2011. Fischer’s hiring brings an abrupt end to Louisa’s search for a head coach that began when former coach Jon Meeks stepped down on Jan. 14.
“I couldn’t be more excited about coming home, being back in The Jungle and taking care of business,” Fischer said to a crowd of reporters, school officials and football players who gathered at the school for the announcement.
“It’s exciting to have coach Fischer back and to see him here,” assistant superintendent of administration Doug Straley said afterwards. “Mark really did some amazing things the first time he was here. Certainly, there’s an excitement that I can feel with people expecting those same types of things the second time around.”
In his previous eight years with the Lions from 2003 to 2010, Fischer led Louisa to their most prolific stretch of football wins in school history. Fischer went 61-28 in eight seasons with the team, winning the Jefferson District four times. Fischer led the Lions to two undefeated regular seasons in 2006 and 2010. The team also reached the Virginia AA state final in 2006.
The progress spearheaded by Fischer was evident both on and off the field, as the coach worked with then athletic-director Doug Straley to create one of the most unique game day experiences in the state. Average attendance at games rose from a few hundred in Fischer’s first season to a capacity crowd of 3,000 in his later years. Attractions such as live lions, skydivers and fireworks at games all were ideas conceived by Straley and Fischer.
It was that resume that athletic director Mike Parsons said made the choice for a new head coach a bit easier.
“When you saw the applicants for the job, you knew we couldn’t go wrong, and the opportunity to bring Mark Fischer back was a really attractive option,” Parsons said.
Fischer resigned from Louisa in 2011 after an 11-1 season to take the head coaching position at St. James High School at Murrell’s Inlet, SC. In three years at St. James, Fischer went 8-22, struggling to lift a young program off of the ground. St. James began playing football in 2005.
Fischer and the Louisa community have maintained close ties with each other during Fischer’s time coaching at St. James. Fischer was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, on Sept. 21, 2012, and various members of the Louisa community made donations on his behalf. Fischer was declared cancer-free on June 27, 2013. After the 2011 Mineral Earthquake, Fischer brought his team to help clean up some of the damage in the town.
Fischer also made surprise appearances at Louisa games over the past few years, with his most recent trip to a Louisa game this past season in the team’s Sept. 13 matchup against Courtland.