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East Hall brings back coaching legend to steer basketball program
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Seth Vining speaks to a group of athletes during an announcement that he will be coming out of retirement to coach basketball at East Hall High School on Friday, March 15, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

At 67, Seth Vining has nothing left to prove as an elite high school basketball coach. A four-time state champion with 745 career victories, Vining has the most wins and is also one of the most admired coaches ever to grace the hardwood in Hall County. 

The veteran coach, whose career spans five decades, also has taken 10 different teams to the state semifinals over 39 years. Vining’s tenure as East Hall boys coach peaked with state championships in 2001 and 2003.

However, his story as a legendary coach is not finished being written.

On Friday, Vining was introduced as East Hall’s new boys basketball coach during a press conference with staff administration on stage and returning players in the audience in the school’s Performing Arts Center. Seth Thompson, who was head coach of the Vikings in 2018-19, will remain on staff as an assistant coach.

“This feels wonderful to be back here at East Hall,” said Vining, who retired after a six-year stint coaching at Lakeview Academy in 2013. “I’m really blessed to have this opportunity.”

Vining’s name is synonymous at East Hall with achievement at the highest level. Now 15 years removed from coaching at East Hall, Vining will be tasked with getting the best out of a new generation.

“I’m excited to see where coach Vining is able to take this program,” East Hall principal Jeff Cooper said. “He’s a man of high character and we know he’ll take the steps to get this program back to where we want it.”

Cooper first reached out to coach Vining earlier this month about returning to Valhalla. The negotiation went fast. After securing the blessing of his wife, Cathy, and Thompson, Vining said he would take the job.

East Hall’s principal said since Vining accepted the position on March 8, it was a bit difficult keeping the speculation of Vining’s from leaking into the public, prior to the official press conference.

Cooper said he caught some whispers of people speculating about the pending announcement.

However, for the most part, they were able to keep it under lids.

The greatest run of success during Vining’s career came between 1993-2004 with the Vikings’ boys, winning just shy of 300 games in that 12-year span. During those seasons, he coached future Division-I talents, such as Chezley Watson, Antione Whelchel, Mark Causey and Matt Causey, among others. In 2003, Vining won a career-high 31 games with the Class 2A state champions, shortly before handing the program to then-assistant Joe Dix.

Vining’s other two state championships came early in his career with the East Hall girls (1979 and 1980).

One year removed from retiring at East Hall in 2004, Vining was hired to help resurrect the boys program at Lakeview Academy. On his watch, the Lions twice won 20 games and the first region title (2008) in program history. Vining has guided 26 teams into the state playoffs.

“The numbers for coach Vining speak volumes,” Cooper said.

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