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Strom Thurmond coach Sawyer is retiring after 10 seasons as head coach

Monday, March 17, 2014 2:36 PM
Last updated Tuesday, March 18, 2014 1:58 AM
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Strom Thurmond football coach Lee Sawyer is retiring.

Coach Lee Sawyer went 107-24 in 10 seasons at Strom Thurmond. Sawyer announced that he is retiring this year. "I'm just ready for another phase of my life," he said.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Coach Lee Sawyer went 107-24 in 10 seasons at Strom Thurmond. Sawyer announced that he is retiring this year. "I'm just ready for another phase of my life," he said.

One of the area’s most successful coaches, Sawyer went 107-24 in 10 seasons as the Rebels’ head coach, leading Strom Thurmond to a win in the 2005 Class AAA state championship game.

But he’s ready to move on.

“I’ve had a ball, and I’ve loved every second,” Sawyer, 51, said Monday. “But I’m ready to do some other things.

“When I got in the business, in education and coaching, I said I would do 30 years. This is my 30th year.”

Over his past six seasons, Sawyer and the Rebels won at least 10 games every year. That included a 11-2 record this season as Strom Thurmond reached the Class AAA state quarterfinals.

Sawyer, who was previously Saluda’s head coach for three seasons in the 1990s, was also an assistant at Strom Thurmond in the 1980s. He then
returned in the 2000s and piled up wins.

Sawyer said he made the decision this past summer that the 2013 season and 2013-14 school year would be it for him. He informed his coaching staff before the season, but he didn’t want the news to get out in the public – he hoped to keep any attention focused on the players. The coach said he told team members Monday.

Though he pointed out the long-term success coaches such as Silver Bluff’s Al Lown and Midland Valley’s Rick Knight have had, Sawyer said he didn’t want to stay too long where people would feel sorry for him if the program started to struggle.

Instead, Sawyer completed a 10-season run at Strom Thurmond with more than 100 wins, a state championship and the program one of the state’s elite.

“The last 10 years have been a dream,” Sawyer said.

“I’m just ready for another phase of my life.”

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