Lakeside High School will be missing a familiar face around its baseball facility next year.
For 22 years, Matthews has been a fixture in the program, but Friday night he let the team know he would not be back as head coach.
“Four years as a player, 12 years as an assistant and six as a head coach, I’ve had enough. I’m going to do a little fishing,” Matthews said.
With 11- and 9 year-old daughters, Matthews cited spending more time with his family as the main reason for his decision.
Matthews went out with a flourish as he guided the Panthers to a 19-9 season, winning the Region 2-AAAAA title and advancing to the Georgia High School Association’s Class AAAAA state baseball tournament’s second round in the process. He recently was named Region 2-AAAAA Baseball Coach of the Year.
Matthews will remain as a teacher at Riverside Middle School for the 2013-14 school year.
Matthews had thought about stepping down a year ago, fueled by the situation in which four players were kicked off the team for drinking alcohol on the bus coming home from a road game.
“After last year, we went through a little incident I know I had never experienced and I contemplated it a little. But then, I said, ‘you know what, I’m going to give it a full year.’”
Senior Hunter Hubbard was happy he gave it one more season.
“I’m glad he came back and we could take him out as region champs,” said Hubbard.
“He was a great coach, a player’s coach, and we loved him.”
Lakeside athletic director Donnie Burch has been friends with Matthews for more than 20 years.
“He just loves the kids, loves the sport, loves Lakeside,” Burch said.
“It’s tough to balance that time between sport and family. It will be very challenging to replace the dedication that he gives.”
Matthews thinks the program will continue to succeed after his departure.
“It’s going to be a sought-after job,” Matthews said. “They’ll be in good hands regardless of who they get. There’s some good guys coming back.”
Matthews said he would look fondly upon the time spent at Lakeside.
“It’s a great place to be. They treated me with great respect and there’s a lot of great players and good families there.”
Burch said the search for a new head coach has
begun and that interested applicants should submit their information to
school principal Dr. Steven Rhodes by Thursday, May 23.