Love brought John Carrick to Gainesville; happenstance brought him to Lakeview Academy.
After retiring from a 27-year coaching career at Georgia College and State University, Carrick moved to Hall County to be closer to his fiance, and it was her son-in-law, Ben Purdy, who told Carrick about the opening at Lakeview.
“I wasn’t going to do anything until August,” Carrick said. “My game plan involved three golf trips with the fellas, but then there were three days where I had nothing to do and I started thinking.”
During that time, Carrick inquired about the coaching position at Truett McConnell, but he was told the position was filled by Lakeview’s previous coach, Buster Brown.
Unsure of what to do next, Purdy told Carrick that Lakeview was the ideal situation and he pestered him to call Lakeview athletic director, Deuce Roark.
“I wasn’t really interested,” Carrick said. “I made the phone call to keep Ben quiet.”
What he said on that phone call and during his interview impressed Roark.
“This wasn’t the original route I had in mind,” Roark said. “He blew me away with his passion for coaching kids and the game of basketball.”
Roark admitted he was surprised Carrick called. After all, this is a coach who won a state title during his nine-year stint at Putman County and won 474 games and appeared in six NCAA Tournaments at GCSU.
“He is certainly more than I could hope for,” Roark said. “I feel confident the program is in good hands.”
Added Carrick, “I fit what he wanted and it fit what I wanted.”
To introduce the new coach, and to create some interest in the girls basketball program, Lakeview Academy held an informal meet-and-greet Monday in the gym that Carrick called “the first step” in building a solid foundation at the school.
“I’m getting to meet the players and let them know that basketball is fun,” he said. “If winning is in the picture, cool, if not, then I want them to know that it’s about building relationships and having a good time doing so.”
After making the Class AA playoffs two out of the past three years, the Lady Lions won only nine games last year, hampered by a roster with only eight players.
“I hope I can convince some kids to play,” said Carrick, who has 12 players, but no seniors, committed to play this year. “With this age group, you’re competing with a lot. Basketball may not be the number one priority, but whenever we do it, we’ll do it the best we can.
“It’ll be a tough year,” he added, “but when I started at Putnam County we were 6-21 and a few years later we won the state championship.”
Not only is he looking forward to the challenge of enhancing a program, but Carrick is excited about coaching alongside Seth Vining, who once recruited a Putnam County player when Carrick was the coach.
“We’ve known each other for a long time,” Carrick said. “We’re both basketball junkies and he’s already been very helpful.”
With the assistance of Vining and Roark and the crowd that greeted him Monday, it appears Carrick will have plenty of support with his return to coaching high school basketball.
“There will be positives as well as negative,” Carrick said. “As long as I can keep my heart in place, it’ll be an easy transition.”