When the first couple of phone calls came from the 919 area code, it was almost easy for Daniel Finn to brush off the idea of returning to Southeast Raleigh High to teach and coach football. But as the number of phone calls from friends and former co-workers – all with the intention of getting him back with the Bulldogs – increased, so did the talks with his wife, Sonya, about maybe it being something worth considering for their family.
“My first responses were all, ‘No thanks, I’m happy here at South Brunswick,’ ” Finn said. “But the interest sparked conversations between my wife and I about what benefits coming back would have for our family. We’ve got a daughter (14-year-old Abbey) who’s headed to college soon, a son who’s becoming more involved in sports (11-year-old Jordan) and parents we both would like to be closer to. We just came to the decision that if I was offered the job, it was a good opportunity for our family to go back home.”
That opportunity came last week with an official offer from Southeast Raleigh athletics director Keith Boddie. Finn’s hire became official Tuesday night.
Finn, 41, left Southeast Raleigh in 2014 after stepping down as football coach in 2011 to concentrate on his duties as AD at the school. But he missed coaching and took over at South Brunswick in Southport before the 2014 season, compiling a 6-17 record there in two seasons. The Cougars had won just two games in the previous two seasons before Finn’s arrival.
He was 56-21 at Southeast Raleigh over six seasons as coach, proving successful in a school with different challenges than most of its Wake County and Greater Neuse River 4A rivals.
Bulldogs athletes are year-round students and deal with multiple breaks during each athletic season. Since school runs from late July through May, any athletes wishing to get grades up with the help of summer school often don’t have that opportunity.
“You’re going to have unique challenges anywhere you go,” Finn said. “There are good things, too. One of those is that since we’re in school starting in late July, we don’t have to go out and find kids when practice starts Aug. 1. They’re already in school.”
Southeast Raleigh, under two coaches, has gone 6-6, 4-7, 4-7 and 4-7 in the four years since Finn resigned as coach, but he knows the potential is there to be a consistent winning program again.
“There are a lot of great people at Southeast Raleigh, a lot of close friends to me there,” Finn said. “It’s somewhere I’ve had a little success so the goal is to get back to that level and then surpass where we were before.”
Finn will finish the year at South Brunswick before beginning his full-time duties at Southeast Raleigh in June.