After 18 years of coaching high school baseball, Jimmy Lawler has decided to hang up his spikes.
Lawler resigned as the head coach of Flowery Branch High on Wednesday in order to accept a position as assistant principal at the school.
“I’ve been thinking about administration for a couple years,” said Lawler, who went 114-98 and won two Region 7-AAA championships and made five state playoff appearances during his eight-year tenure at Flowery Branch. “I felt like this was the right time.”
Prior to coming to Flowery Branch when the school opened in 2002, Lawler spent nine seasons as the head coach of Johnson High and won 110 games and guided the program to a Class AAA quarterfinals appearance. Deciding to step down wasn’t easy.
“I talked to several close friends that coached for a lot of years and stepped away,” said Lawler, whose administrative duties include overseeing schoolwide testing, managing school facilities, coordinating career and technical education. “I had to make sure there would be no looking back.
Although he said that not coaching would be tough, being able to spend more time with his 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son will make the transition easier.
“I want to be around and they want me around,” Lawler said. “Seeing me for 15 minutes was tough on the kids and my wife.”
Lawler gave no indication as to whom his replacement would be, but he said that he’d leave that decision to Flowery Branch athletic director Shannon Benton and principal Mark Coleman.
“While I am very excited to have coach Lawler as a part of the administrative team here at Flowery Branch, I am faced with the task of replacing him as the leader of our baseball program,” Benton said in a statement released Wednesday. “Coach Lawler has done a great job here at Flowery Branch and his leadership will be missed in the baseball program. He has built a program here that I am proud of.
“I have no time limit on filling his position as the baseball coach and will begin taking applications and conducting interviews over the next several weeks.”
One place Benton might start is with Lawler’s coaching staff.
“I know all three of my assistants are capable of coaching,” he said. “The baseball program will be fine.”
The Falcons are coming off one of their worst seasons to date, as they finished 5-20 a year after going 20-7.
“The wins and losses weren’t there, but that team was the most fun group in my 18 years of coaching,” Lawler said. “That group made what could have been an awful season enjoyable.”
Lawler laughed when asked about the number of years he’ll actually be able to stay out of the dugout, but remained confident in his decision.
“I’m sure I’ll be at a lot of the games, but I won’t be the last guy in the park,” he said. “I love high school baseball, I really do, but it was time for me to move on.”