Originally created 03/28/04

North Augusta coach calls it quits



There's a time in every coach's life where the whistle wrapped around the neck and shoulders gets a little too tight. Former North Augusta boys basketball coach Keith Arrington felt that way after the end of this season, his fifth, at the school. He resigned as the team's coach, citing personal reasons.

"There is a lot more to life than coaching," Arrington said. "I've been coaching basketball for the last 24 years of my life. ... I've got a wife. I've got a mother and a father. Maybe it's the good Lord's plan for me to take care of my family stuff now. Maybe I should work on that part of my life."

Arrington, 45, made those feelings known to North Augusta athletic director Joe Long on Tuesday. He informed his team on Wednesday.

"It was the second-hardest thing I have ever had to do," Arrington said. "The toughest was the time I had to speak at a kid's funeral after he had committed suicide."

The Yellow Jackets ended the season with a hard-fought 94-84 loss to Gaffney. Gaffney went on to win the South Carolina Class AAAA state championship.

"That was one of the best and most fun games I have ever been involved with since I have been here," Arrington said. "I thought we played great. It was tough we had to lose. The kids have always been great at North Augusta. I had a great time here. I wish them all the best."

Yellow Jackets standout Justin Wheeler said the team never saw it coming.

"I think coach Arrington was the best man to coach our team," Wheeler said. "He still is. I don't totally know if he really wanted to go or something else was up."

Long, a close friend of Arrington's, saw the move as more of a lifestyle change, than any sort of a coaching transition.

"He just decided it was time to do something different," Long said. "I think maybe he's wondering whether he is going to coach basketball at all."

Arrington showed his wares as a coach in the impact he had on Wheeler's game. The junior averaged 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds per game this year. He will be recruited by top Division I programs next season.

"Coach started in on me about my attitude and my defense from the ninth grade on," Wheeler said. "He brought out the best in me."

Arrington still feels there is a chance he could be coaching somewhere next season. Long said that North Augusta will advertise its opening Monday and would like a new coach in place by May.

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.