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Hodges resigns

One Bearden High School coach doesn’t want to play the “regret card” when looking back on his career and saying, “I wish I’d spent more time with my family.”

Nathan Hodges, only 27, has put aside his coaching and teaching duties at BHS — head coach of the Lady Bulldogs varsity basketball program the past five seasons — “to spend more time” with wife, Rachel, and 1-year-old daughter, Bri.

“The job in itself just takes up a lot of time,” said Hodges, who has been connected to BHS six years — the first five as a mathematics teacher and coach before taking a teaching “leave of absence” prior to the 2009-10 school year. “The last few years I’ve been happy to do it and try to make a positive impact with kids — and to sacrifice that time to do that.

“But now I’m at a point in my life where I’d like to have more of that time to spend with my family,” added Hodges, who came to BHS in the fall of 2004 straight from a bachelor’s degree earned at Maryville College that spring.

Hodges also admitted to a “little bit of a burn-out factor” also influencing his decision. “It’s a really grueling schedule.”

However, “It was a very, very difficult decision,” he added. “I thought about it and prayed about it for a while.

“We had a team meeting [Thursday, April 15] that was really hard to tell the players because I love each one of our players because they’ve always been high quality, high character players — but also people.”

With an 88-54 overall record, Hodges’ best season was 2008-09. While dominating District 2-AAA with league and tournament championships, his Lady Bulldogs upset nationally ranked Oak Ridge en route to the Region 2-AAA title (24-7). Bearden barely fell short of a TSSAA state tourney trip.

“Nathan’s awesome, I really hate to see him go,” BHS athletics director Scott Witt said. “Nathan’s one of those guys that if he can’t give 100 percent, then he’s not going to put his name on something like that.

“He’s staying home with his daughter; his wife is a nurse practitioner ... he’s going to focus on being a dad a while.”

A native of Spartanburg, S.C., and assistant coach under Bulldogs boys varsity coach Mark Blevins in 2004-05 before taking over the girls’ varsity program, Hodges announced his decision late last week.

“Under coach Blevins I pretty much learned how to run a whole program,” Hodges said of the highly successful boys head coach.

As a head coach in the early going, Hodges said he was “ready to take on challenges, but I didn’t always know the best method to go about it,” adding he was able “to learn from other high school coaches” and “college coaches that I would talk to when we’d go to summer camps.”

Specifically, “How to develop players individually with their skills,” he said.

This past season, without teaching while caring take of his child as a part-time “stay-at-home dad,” Hodges said he still put in “well over 20 hours a week ... you’re working seven months of the year.”

Hodges said he was “keeping the door open” for a return to teaching in the 2011-12 school year.

Coaching again? Hodges said he did not “see himself” coaching “in the near future. Possibly at some point down the road.”


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