Flowery Branch High girls basketball coach Hazel Hall is retiring at the end of the school year to pursue another opportunity.
Hall, also a business teacher at Flowery Branch, said someone approached her with the chance to do something different, adding that if she didn’t try to take advantage of it now, she might not get another chance to do it.
“It’s a good time for me to go,” Hall said in a phone interview Friday. “It was 31 years in education, and I wasn’t going to be around much longer anyway.”
Hall led her team to a No. 1 seed in the North sub-region of Region 8-AAAAA in her final season with the Lady Falcons, who finished 21-6 in 2014-15.
The effort this past season came with a team that featured no seniors and had prominent contributions from freshmen Lexie Sengkhammee and Taniyah Worth and sophomore Julianne Sutton. Juniors Maddie Hetzel, Breanna Locke, Heather Moore and Kierra Knight are among the players who will be seniors for the 2015-16 season.
“You always want to try to leave on a positive note. And you don’t want to have a sour taste in your mouth,” Hall said. “The cupboard definitely is not bare. They have pretty much everyone back, and they should be fine. It’s never easy (to leave) no matter what. But I think I’d rather do it that way.”
Flowery Branch athletic director Jimmy Lawler said Hall made a major difference for her players on and off the court.
“She’s a high-character lady,” Lawler said. “And we will miss her in a lot of ways.”
Hall’s record was 115-79 in seven seasons as Flowery Branch’s head coach, which came after one year as an assistant at the school. She led the Lady Falcons to five state tournament appearances, including four straight from 2010-13 and a return to the postseason in 2015.
One of her favorite memories from that tenure was a back-and-forth game in her second season, 2010, against Chestatee with a postseason spot on the line. Flowery Branch won the game for Hall’s first playoff trip as head coach at the school.
“That’s what really got our program turned around and started going in the right direction,” Hall said.
Then, a year later, The Lady Falcons earned seven victories during the regular season before riding a three-game winning streak to a region runner-up finish and another playoff berth.
“A lot of girls grow up wanting to play basketball for Flowery Branch,” Lawler said. “That’s a credit to coach Hall and the program she’s built.”
In her 25-year high school head coaching career at multiple schools, Hall had a 388-246 record. She was previously head coach at Model, Oconee County and Dade County and an assistant at Reinhardt College.
With Flowery Branch’s location and the returning talent, Lawler is optimistic about the search for the next coach.
“We don’t have anybody in mind right now. We are just going to look for the best possible candidate,” Lawler said. “Anyone that does any research will see that this is a good opportunity. I feel like we will have a lot of quality applicants.”