For the past 22 years, Joe Dix has been synonymous with Hall County basketball.
Now he’ll see what sort of influence he can have elsewhere.
The longtime East Hall boys coach announced Tuesday, May 22, that he has accepted the same position at Collins Hill in Suwanee. After spending eight years as an assistant coach to Seth Vining and the past 14 as the Vikings’ head man, Dix said he was “looking for the possibility of a new challenge.”
He believes he has found that at Class 7A Collins Hill, which saw former coach Ty Baumgardner resign May 10 to take over at a South Carolina high school.
“The job didn’t open until early last week,” Dix said. “I met with them this past Thursday, and it all just kind of happened really quickly. But we’re excited about it.”
Those at Collins Hill likely feel the same way, considering Dix’s myriad accomplishments at East Hall.
Dix guided the Vikings to a state championship as a first-year coach in 2005, his third title after helping Vining-led squads win it all in 2001 and 2003. Under his watch, East Hall reached the state semifinals three times while winning six region championships and five Lanierland titles.
Only one of Dix’s 14 Vikings squads missed the playoffs, and the Hall County coaching fixture even earned his 300th career win last season.
Yet the success Dix had on the court won’t be what sticks with him the most when he reflects on his two-plus decades at East Hall.
“I’ll remember the kids and the relationships that were built with the young men; not only those that played for me, but with the kids in this school,” Dix said. “I love the school, and I always will.
“I got married while I was here. My son is 7, and he grew up in this gym. He has been here since he was literally a baby. My wife and I have three children who graduated from here, as well. This place is near and dear to us, very important to us.”
So much so that Dix said he texted every other boys basketball coach in the county Tuesday to personally let them know he’s moving on.
“I’m friends with them all,” he said. “All of them were very supportive of me in this endeavor.”
Dix will be among friends in his new gig, too.
Due to frequent practices with and games against teams in Region 6-7A, Dix said he’s already familiar with all the coaches from that group. That influenced him to take the Collins Hill job, as did the opportunity to compete in the state’s highest classification and in Gwinnett County, which Dix believes “has great basketball throughout.”
Indeed, Region 6-7A was the only region in the state that sent five teams to the playoffs because Collins Hill received the classification’s at-large bid via GHSA power rankings. That could occur again next year as Dix takes over one of four 20-plus-win teams from the region.
He’ll get a later start than his counterparts, however, with summer workouts beginning in just a few weeks. Dix plans to install his up-tempo full-court press with the Eagles, a process he hopes will be smooth given the team’s talent and recent schemes under Baumgardner.
“It’s going to be a whirlwind, but I’m going to dive straight in,” Dix said. “I’ll probably do summer a bit differently, trying to implement our style of play. We’ll probably play more games this summer than I normally would.”
Though Dix said the timing of his move isn’t “ideal” due to the current school year drawing to a close, he’s eager to get underway in some new scenery.
But there’s one thing Gwinnett County basketball won’t be able to give him.
“I’m really going to miss Lanierland,” Dix said. “There isn’t anything else like it.”
After Dix coached in the Hall County tournament for the last 22 years, Lanierland likely won’t be the same without him.