After Lee Shaw recently resigned as Lakeview Academy’s football coach to take the same position at Metter High School, Lakeview school officials have moved quickly to fill the opening.
And they’ve turned to a face familiar to longtime Hall County high school sports fans.
Gainesville native and former East Hall multi-sport standout Lee Coleman was named the Lions’ new head coach Friday in a statement released by Lakeview head of school John Simpson.
“We are extremely pleased that Lee Coleman has accepted this position because we know he will be good for Lakeview’s football program as well as its players and families,” Simpson said. “Lee’s football experience, as both a player and a coach, will be hugely beneficial to Lakeview.”
For Coleman, the decision to accept the Lakeview job was an easy one.
The obvious reason was the opportunity to come home to Hall County, where he was a football and basketball standout at East Hall before graduating in 2006, and earning a football scholarship to play in the Big 10 at Northwestern.
"Home is where the heart is," Coleman said. "When the ... opportunity arose, it was an easy sell to jump on board and to do it at home. Just being familiar with the community and growing up in the area, knowing my way around Hall County and trying to figure out the talent that's there and the guys that want to be there and want to go on the same mission that I'm trying to push. So I think that's big, especially not being in Hall County since I was 17 years old. So to get the opportunity to come back to Hall County where it all started is special."
Coleman comes to Lakeview after spending the past four seasons as head coach at Georgia Military College Preparatory School in Milledgeville, where he led the Bulldogs to a 23-20 record and three Class A state playoff appearances, including a Region 7-A (Public) title in 2021.
His previous coaching experience includes five seasons as wide receivers coach at GMC Prep, as well stints in college football as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Arizona and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as a offensive quality control coach at Arizona State University.
During his tenure at GMC Prep, Coleman's Bulldogs teams became known for its high-powered offense, particularly the 2021 region championship team, which averaged more than 35 points per game.
However, he also knows the values of balancing that offense with solid defense, something he also learned close to home.
"Now, you want to score points. That's the name of the game," Coleman said. "You want to score points being an offensive guy in college playing receiver, in high school being quarterback. But also in high school playing defense, one thing I've always learned from my dad (Randy), who always talked about his glory days at Gainesville High School (in the early and mid 1980s) being a defensive back, is stopping the football.
"That region championship team (at GMC Prep), we led the state in (fewest) points allowed. We only allowed 6.4 points per game for the year. So you want to be balanced both offensively scoring points and defensively, you want to stop the run."
In both areas of the game, Coleman is excited about the talent pool he'll have from a Lakeview program on the upswing after the last three seasons under Shaw, including qualifying for the GIAA Class 4A/3A state playoffs this past fall.
"I saw growth and opportunity (at Lakeview)," Coleman said. "The football program has been on the rise, where Coach Shaw left it. ... So you see opportunity for (further) growth and more to build. And you've got an administration and staff that wants to see it to continue to succeed. That means a lot to me when you've got somebody to support you."
Having attended Northwestern , where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in education and social policy in 2011 and eventually earning a Masters of Arts in teaching from Georgia College and State University, Coleman also understands the importance of academics, something else that Simpson said made him an attractive candidate for the job.
“The fact that Coleman successfully combined his football and academic careers at Northwestern is meaningful to Lakeview because our student athletes work as hard in the classroom as they do on the field,” Simpson said of Coleman, who will teach physical education at Lakeview. “He understands the importance of classroom accountability.”