Jay Matthews has been a fixture in the program for 22 years, but Friday night he let the team know that he would not be back as head coach.
“Four years as a player, 12 years as an assistant and six as a head coach, I’ve had enough, I’m going to do a little fishing,” Matthews said.
Matt-hews was head coach from 2005-08 before walking away to take a teaching job at Riverside Middle School, but he returned when Lakeside needed a coach for the 2012 season.
“The desire to compete at the high school level was still there,” said Matthews, who added that if he had known it would have been such a short stint he wouldn’t have come back.
With 11- and 9-year-old daughters, Matthews cited spending more time with his family as the main reason for his decision.
“To be a high school baseball coach you have to be on the job 24/7, 365 days a year,” Matthews said. “I know you hear you get summers off, but you don’t. There’s no off-season. There’s off-season conditioning, you’re contacting college coaches and so forth, so it’s a full-time job.”
Matthews will remain as a teacher at Riverside Middle for the 2013-14 school year.
Matthews guided the Panthers to a 19-9 season, winning the Region 2-AAAAA title and advancing to the Georgia High School Association’s Class AAAAA state tournament’s second round. Matthews had thought about stepping down a year ago, fueled by the situation in which four players were kicked off the team for drinking alcohol on the bus coming home from a road game.
“After last year we went through a little incident I know I had never experienced and I contemplated it a little, but then I said you know what, I’m going to give it a full year,” he said.
Graduating senior Hunter Hubbard was happy he did.
“I’m glad he came back and we could take him out as region champs,” Hubbard said. “He was a great coach, a players coach and we loved him.”
Lakeside athletic director Donnie Burch said replacing Matthews will be tough.
“It will be very challenging to replace the dedication that he gives,” Burch said.
Matthews said he would look fondly upon the time spent at Lakeside.
“It’s a great place to be,” he said. “They treated me with great respect and there’s a lot of great players and good families there.”