James Hale is very familiar with the rebuilding process.
He did it when he took over at Cape Coral High School in 1989 and led the Seahawks to a 52-31 record in 11 seasons.
He took upstart Arnold High in Panama City Beach and went 80-52 from 2000-13.
He will start the process again in his return to Lee County, taking over a Mariner program that has won nine games in the last three seasons.
“When we were at Cape Coral they hadn’t had a winning season in 10 years,” Hale said. “The administration made a commitment to the program and bought us new weights.
“By the second year, we were a pretty strong and physical team. You have to have good coaches and you have to have a good weight program.”
Mariner’s administration has displayed that commitment, putting just under $50,000 into a weight room.
The room was finished in early July, giving players four weeks to use the new weights.
They can already see a difference in their bodies.
Senior quarterback Jonah Markovits has added 15 pounds this summer. He completed 6-of-12 passes last season but took the most snaps under center in the spring loss to Golden Gate.
“He’s pulled my full skill set out of me,” Markovits said of Hale. “He’s a great coach. He treats all the players with the same kind of respect. He gets everything you can get out of us and he’s made this whole team better.”
Hale, 56, had 10 kids transfer but managed to have 49 players show up on Monday’s first day of practice. He doesn’t worry about players moving in the offseason.
“I’ve been told you can’t win here anymore because of all of the players going to different schools,” Hale said. “I could care less about that. I can’t control that. I can control the kids that want to play at Mariner High School.
“I can make them the best they can be. That’s what we’re going to focus on, building outstanding players and citizens. If we do the little things right and teach them to be better people, the good things will happen.”
Hale brought five coaches onto his staff that worked with him during his 11-year tenure at Cape Coral, making for an easier transition back to Lee County.
“They know what they’re doing. They know what I expect,” Hale said. “It’s going to be a lot easier having guys that worked with me before. I feel like we have a good coaching staff and good administration support.
“It starts at the top. If the principal wants a good program, you will have one because they will do the things necessary to give you the opportunity to be successful. They have certainly done that here at Mariner.”
Hale is confident that he and his coaching staff will turn the Mariner program around but gave no timetable on how long the process will take.
But what is for certain is this is the final stop in the state of Florida for the Montgomery, Ala., native.
“If I’m feeling good and healthy I’d like to keep on coaching,” Hale said. “I just love being around the kids, as long as I feel like I can affect them in a positive way and help people be better I will keep doing it.”