Five years ago, I came to Augusta Prep as the newly appointed athletic director, not knowing what to expect from my new school or the Augusta area. Now, as I depart Augusta Prep, I leave with an immense sense of pride in all that has been accomplished in our athletic program.
In addition, I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who has made me feel so welcomed and valued, both at the school and in the community.
I have enjoyed wonderful relationships with all of the area athletic directors and coaches, but special thanks go out to Mark Tebbs at Westminster, and Mike Gold, former athletic director at Augusta Christian. They have assisted me time and time again, and have become both professional and personal friends.
Carol Trammel, athletic director at Episcopal Day School, helped me understand the dynamics of middle school athletics, and also has become a close friend.
Jack Hall and Steve Blanchard, the two headmasters during my time at Augusta Prep, were both wonderful leaders and extremely supportive of athletics.
One personal memory I will always treasure from my days in Augusta is that I met my wife, Erin, during my time here.
Meeting a wonderful, fellow educator from New Mexico was certainly not part of my master plan. As it turned out, one of my first contacts with Erin was convincing her that she would be an excellent assistant volleyball coach, despite her complete lack of background in the sport.
Four years later, we celebrated our wedding on a beautiful summer evening in Albuquerque. That's a great reason why Augusta will always have a special place in our hearts - this is where it all began for us, and I want to thank Erin for all of her support.
Believe it or not, I'd like to thank all the officials who invest their time for very little pay to make it possible for our games and matches to be conducted in a first-class manner.
I am also indebted to Joni Thurmond, Allison Lindley and Linda Eskew, who each have served as administrative assistants for the Augusta Prep athletic department over the past five years.
And, thanks to the direction of Moe Bailey, our physical education program has grown and improved dramatically.
Finally, and most importantly, thanks to the entire Augusta Prep coaching staff, faculty, support staff, parents and students for their many and varied contributions to our athletic program.
The coaches in particular have been crucial to the growth of the programs, as they are ever mindful of the impact they have on shaping the minds and hearts of student-athletes.
Quality athletic programs are built brick-by-brick, and I think we have taken that approach at Augusta Prep.
There have been so many great moments during my tenure at Prep, that I can't possibly highlight them all, but there are several that stick out in my mind.
Certainly, developing and watching our new outdoor facility come to fruition was both exciting and challenging. The addition of Augusta's only private-school track, along with the soccer and baseball venues, changed the look of our campus dramatically, and made it possible for our teams to practice and compete on excellent facilities.
Another wonderful highlight was being involved with setting up the Middle School Cross-Country league. It's extremely gratifying to know that Augusta Prep has contributed to the growth of this wonderful sport.
We also have had our share of triumphs and championships during the past five years - Augusta Prep teams have captured eight Georgia Independent School Association state titles, and 14 region crowns.
For me, the most memorable of those were the ones the varsity golf team brought home, including the GISA Class AAA championship in 2000. I was fortunate enough to serve as coach for a team of young men who played inspired golf that season, and throughout their high school careers.
Another emotional high-point was seeing our former basketball coach, Steve Boyd, guide his team to the school's first appearance in the GISA Final Four. His accomplishment came in the final campaign of a 20-plus year coaching career.
The dramatic comeback our volleyball team put together to win the CSRA Championship in 1999 may have been the most exciting action I've witnessed in any sport.
The Boys' cross country team capturing the first state cross country title in school history also ranks very high on my list of favorite moments.
I'm very proud of an overall winning percentage of 55 percent in all sports against our two closest rivals, Augusta Christian and Westminster.
Another important component to the ultimate success of our athletic program is having doubled the number of teacher/coaches on our full-time faculty.
Tangible highlight aside, the best times were spent working with our coaches and athletes; celebrating their successes and agonizing over the ones that got away!
In a few days, I will leave my office at Augusta Prep for the last time. I hope that everyone in the community will welcome Tom Holodak, our new athletic director, as much as they did me.
Tom has spent the last 21 years at Greenhill School in Dallas, Texas, where he served as assistant athletic director the past nine years.
Oddly enough, Greenhill is in the same conference as my new school, Fort Worth Country Day, so we may pass each other on I-20!
Tom brings a wealth of coaching and teaching experience and talent. Based on my conversations with many people in Forth Worth and Dallas, he is a well-respected educator, a highly-successful administrator and a gifted coach in track and cross country.
An ancient philosopher once said, that in order to savor the high points in life, one must also taste the lows. The bitter and the sweet - athletics provide access to both on a daily basis.
The lessons learned in athletics undoubtedly provide students with a framework of life-skills which enable them to succeed beyond their high school years.
Numbers on a scoreboard too often frame the definition of a "winning program."
For me a winning program imparts the value of competition, preparation and commitment. That's the kind of program we've tried to built at Augusta Prep.
As I leave Augusta Prep, my wish is for the school to continue to build a winning program in the truest sense of the term.
Thanks to Augusta Prep for the many memories, and I promise not to be a stranger!
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