The coach who helped the Flowery Branch High boys basketball team reach new heights is moving on.
David Sokol is stepping down from his position and will depart at the end of the current school year, Falcons athletic director Jimmy Lawler announced Monday, March 12. Sokol, who guided Flowery Branch to its only Lanierland championship and its first playoff win in a decade, said he is leaving to “pursue other opportunities.”
“I didn’t start thinking about it until after the season,” said Sokol, who spent the last five years coaching the Falcons. “I started thinking about a lot of things, weighing a lot of things, just like anybody else would do in any other job.
“Any time it comes to the end of the season, you’ve got different options. So I weighed those options, talked to my family and decided what was best.”
Sokol declined to reveal where he will coach next, though he said he will likely announce it by next week.
His departure leaves a vacancy for Lawler, who said he expects the position to attract heavy interest. The school’s administration is in the early stages of the search for Sokol’s successor, but Lawler claimed he has already received inquiries about the job.
“In my opinion, David Sokol is a great coach and a fine man,” the athletic director said. “He will be missed, but I think our school has a lot to offer as far as the athletes that we have, the support our community gives our school and the region we play in, which is attractive for basketball.”
Sokol had a hand in making all that happen.
He leaves Flowery Branch after amassing a 72-62 record with four winning seasons. After beginning his Falcons tenure with a 5-20 record, Sokol won more than 61 percent of his games while bringing the program back to playoff contention.
Flowery Branch finally captured its first-ever Lanierland championship in 2015 before qualifying for the state tournament the following year, a feat it hadn’t accomplished since 2009.
The Falcons lost a tight battle on the road as a No. 3 seed, only to pull a first-round upset as a third-seeded team this season. They stunned Class 5A’s sixth-ranked Villa Rica, 45-44, clinching the program’s first playoff win in 10 years.
“It was gratifying to coach that group of guys and see success they had,” Sokol said of this year’s team. “The way they approached games and practices throughout the season was gratifying to me. I know the work they put in and what it took for what they wanted to accomplish.”
Sokol’s senior-laden squad almost continued its playoff run but fell in overtime to top-seeded Lithonia, 51-39, in the second round.
Still, the coach oversaw a resurgence for Flowery Branch, which the GHSA moved down to Class 4A for the next two school years as part of its mid-cycle adjustment. The keys to putting the Falcons program back on track, Sokol said, were getting the best out of his players and influencing them to play for each other.
“I needed to make sure I’m putting them in a position to hopefully reach some success,” he said. “In order to do that, I needed to push those guys every day — whether it’s in the weight room, the court or the classroom — as well as try to build team camaraderie.”
Sokol received a glowing review from his athletic director, who called him an “excellent” coach.
“He believed in the fundamentals of basketball,” Lawler said. “He demanded his players play good defense and were unselfish. He’s a great role model for high school basketball players. … He will be hard to replace.”
Sokol, who previously coached at South Forsyth High and Winder-Barrow High, thanked Flowery Branch and Hall County Schools administrators for handing him the keys to the program over the last five years.
He said the memory of players and coaches he worked with at Flowery Branch will stick with him as he moves on to the next stage of his career.
“I’ll remember the players that came through put everything they had in to make the program better,” Sokol said. “That also includes the coaches and the time that they put into building this. It’s the relationships over the years; that’s what you always remember as a coach.”