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Countryside names soccer coach

Countryside high school has hired Tom Traxler as the new boys soccer coach, filling the spot left vacant several weeks ago by veteran coach Ron Marn.

It was one of several high school coaching changes in Pinellas County Friday.

This past season, Traxler guided the Seminole boys team to an 11-4-1 record and a surprising second-place finish to his new school, district champion Countryside.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for any coach to come into such a great program," said Traxler. "Ron has done a tremendous job, certainly making mine a lot easier.

"Really, it was a very easy decision for me (to change schools). It's the same pay and it's five minutes away from my house."

Traxler, 25, lives in Safety Harbor, and has worked for the Tampa Bay Rowdies as an equipment manager and assistant trainer for five years.

Meanwhile, Lakewood assistant principal Andy Hale announced that Steve Savage had been hired from a list of six candidates to replace head coach Richard Uhlmann, who stepped down several weeks ago.

And at St. Petersburg High, assistant principal and activities director Wayne Nundy confirmed that first-year coach Anthony Givins had been released. Givins compiled a 16-10 record after replacing Mark Maloney last fall.

"It was an internal decision made by several people for the betterment of the program," Nundy said. "Anthony will continue to be an integral part of our program and will continue as the assistant football coach."

Givins, 25, is the brother of Houston Oilers wide receiver Ernest Givins. He had been a substitute teacher for most of the year in the county.

"I feel a little bitter. I don't feel like I was given a full shot," said Givins, who was the youngest coach in the county. "I thought I did a real nice job after only one year. I guess I made history both ways. I was the youngest coach hired and the youngest fired."

Givins said he will pursue other baseball coaching positions around the county.

Savage, a substitute physical education teacher, could not be reached for comment.

St. Petersburg joins Gibbs as schools now searching for baseball coaches.

In another soccer move, Lakewood's Hale also announced that Garnett Craig had been hired as boys coach. Craig played four years at the University of South Florida, where he obtained a chemical engineering degree, and is presently working for Florida Power.

_ Staff Writer Liz Robbins contributed to this report.

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