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High school basketball: Bobby Pless stepping down as West Hall boys coach
Basketball Media Day
West Hall boys basketball coach Bobby Pless speaks during the North Georgia FCA Basketball Media Day on Nov. 2, 2022 at Free Chapel in Gainesville. - photo by Bill Murphy

Throughout his 10 years as a teacher and coach at West Hall High School, Bobby Pless has had a lot on his plate, particularly when it comes to the latter role with athletics.

However, the veteran coach decided that it was time to lighten the load on that plate, and made it official Thursday by announcing that he would be stepping down as head coach of the Spartans’ boys basketball team.

Pless will remain at West Hall as a teacher and head coach of the Spartans’ boys and girls cross country programs, and has also served as an assistant for the girls basketball program for five seasons, including during his first season as the boys head coach in 2016.

He said that with his workload in all his capacities at the school, the time just seemed right to step away from coaching basketball.

“Right now, I’m opening up the way for somebody else to come in,” said Pless, who has 27 years experience in coaching athletics, which includes time at North Hall and in Forsyth County school system. “I just kind of felt like it was time. … I love West Hall, and I’m going to do everything I can to help West Hall.

“A lot of the years I’ve been a head coach at different places, I’ve (coached) more than one sport. I love it. It keeps you active, but … when I became the boys (basketball) coach, in the summer, you’ve got (preseason) running (and conditioning for cross country) in the morning and doing basketball (in summer leagues later in the day). When school starts, you do cross country, and then you go right into basketball (when cross country is over). There’s a lot that goes on. I still love it. I still have energy to do it, but I think right now would be a good time (to step away from basketball).”

Pless, who guided West Hall to a 12-14 this season and had three state tournament teams and a 2019 Lanierland Tournament runner-up finish during his seven seasons as boys head coach, actually had made the decision to step down earlier this week.

However, he held off in making it official for a few days, which West Hall athletics director David Wagner had hoped would give him a chance to change his mind.

But now he now switches to search mode for Pless’ successor, a process he says he’s not putting a specific timeline on.

“I found out earlier this week, and we decided to make it public (Thursday) after having some time to talk,” Wagner said. “It was a surprise to me when we first spoke about it. … It’s still a tough one to wrap my head around. I tried to get him to reconsider and stay on (as basketball coach). You’re just not going to find a better man, a better individual, somebody you’d want to put in front of a group of kids to show them the right way than Bobby.

“To be honest very with you, our timeline is just when we can find the right person to do the job.”

Whoever eventually gets the job, Pless is confident that the program is in a good place for the new coach to continue being competitive after a 2022-23 season in which the Spartans barely missed the state tournament in a Region 7-3A that featured a lot of parity.

“I enjoyed being in a region where every night, it was going to be a good game,” Pless said. “I think it’ll be pretty similar next year. There will be some changes in the region, but it’s a very competitive balance from top to bottom.

“This year, I had a group I was so proud of. They gave themselves a chance just about every night. At the end of the day, that’s what you’ve got to do – give yourself a chance. … We’ve got a lot of really good players (returning next year).”

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