By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lakeview Academy coach Lee Shaw has football coaching tree with branches all through Hall County
Rotary Club
Lakeview Academy football coach Lee Shaw speaks Monday at the Rotary Club of Gainesville meeting at First Baptist Church. Photo by Bill Murphy

Lee Shaw has built a career on building football programs and winning lots of games. 

Every stop he has had as a head coach, the veteran coach has put things together from the ground up or revamped previously-struggling programs.

And that success, under Shaw, has created a lineage of coaches throughout Hall County and beyond.

No place is it more firmly in place than at Rabun County High, where he retired in 2018, and handed off the thriving Class 2A’s top-ranked Wildcats program to his oldest son, Jaybo.

Now, in his second year at Lakeview Academy, Lee is back among a long line of peers who, at some point, walked the same sideline, many during his 10 seasons at Flowery Branch (2002-2012).

While Shaw may receive plenty of recognition for the way he has left programs, he also knows the work is not done solely by him. He has always surrounded himself with quality assistant coaches, who have turned out to be coordinators or head coaches after being apart of his staff.

“I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of good guys,” Shaw said. “It has been proven as they have gone on to be head coaches.”

Shaw has a coaching tree is filled with former assistants who have either run their own programs or went on to be successful coordinators. 

The ‘coaching tree’ includes Chestatee’s Shaun Conley, Flowery Branch’s Ben Hall, Gainesville’s Heath Webb, Chris Griffin (who took over as head coach at Flowery Branch for five seasons, then went to Cherokee Bluff as defensive coordinator) and first-year East Hall coach Matt Turner. 

Also moving on to be a head coach, after working for Shaw previously, is Habersham Central’s Benji Harrison, and former Chattahoochee coach Vince Strine, who is now athletics director at North Atlanta High.

They have each had the opportunity to learn under a man, who is entering his 32nd year of coaching. 

And it all started, for Shaw, in 1989. 

Shaw went from student teaching and coaching the receivers before eventually getting a middle school history teaching job in Rabun County. 

He left after one season and went to White County (90-92) as an assistant before returning to his alma mater Rabun County for a season. Then it was off to Stephen County for the 1994 season. The following year, Shaw took his first head coaching position at White County (95-99). 

Rabun County called for him to come back as an assistant under Sonny Smart, who is Georgia coach Kirby Smart’s father.

Shaw then helped opened the doors at Flowery Branch High. 

He was at the South Hall school from 2002-2011. 

The lure of returning to his alma mater was too much to ignore where Shaw coached for six seasons (2012-2018). 

He retired for one season, before he had enough of golfing. 

The Lakeview Academy came open in 2020. 

Right away, the Lions had a winning season, making the Class A private schools state playoffs for the first time in school history. 

Now, Shaw is focused on making the private school into a consistent winner.

Shaw’s philosophy comes from all his years serving as an assistant, which is what he wants on his staff. 

“You want guys that are hungry for success, that are loyal, don’t mind the grind, and I have picked a lot of guys who their ultimate goal was to be a head coach, because they are driven,” Shaw said. “When you have guys that are driven, you have a chance to have a really good staff. 

Lakeview’s current staff has a mix of young and experienced coaches. One of those guys is Lions defensive coordinator Chandler Newton. 

The 26-year old former multi-sport athlete at West Hall and then Gainesville, has been on the Lions staff for two seasons. Newton is also an assistant baseball coach for the 3A state champion North Hall.

Prior to his return to Hall County, Newton spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Georgia State.

Newton is absorbing anything he can from Shaw’s organizational skills to run and build a program. 

He loves the way the veteran coach motivates players daily.

“It is awesome,” Newton said. “His attention to details and organization is everything. I want to put that in my coaching toolbox. Everything matters to him.

“I love how motivated he stays and transfers that to the players. He gets them jacked up to bring the same energy. He wants the players to have his identity as a football team.”

Shaw is not only excited about having his players excel on the field, he feels the same way for his former assistants. He is proud of them all. However, there seems to have come a change where some younger coaches are not willing to pay their dues. So many want to get the instant climb to the top.

Football is a grind in itself. There are steps to young assistants need to take in oder to reach the head coaching position. Shaw has some advice for aspiring coaches. 

“Become a student of the game,” he said. “Find people to talk too. Go watch practices. Find successful programs, and see why have become successful not just because they have good players. I would suggest go find programs you respect, and see if the head coach or assistants will talk to you.”

Friends to Follow social media