The varsity athletic scene at Richmond Hill High School has experienced some drastic changes this past week. New Wildcat head coaches have been signed for softball and both boys and girls basketball for the coming seasons.
Now former-RHHS softball Coach Allen Cox has stepped down despite a very successful run. RHHS athletic director Jimmy Hires said Cox stepped down in order to dedicate more time to his family, including a new baby he welcomed this past year. Assistant Coach Jodi Regan has been promoted to the top spot.
Regan has ten years of coaching experience, and has been the assistant at RHHS for two years.
Prior to coming here, she assisted in coaching the middle school softball team in Fayette County, Georgia and in Alabama before that. She is optimistic that she can carry the momentum of the successful program, but recognizes the loss of many key senior players.
"I feel really good about this," said Regan. "Coming into the new season, we’ll have some good pitching, but we’re losing a strong first base (Stacy Smith) and short stop (Sarah Reid). Our biggest obstacle will be offense as we’re losing our number 1, 2 and 4 batters. The only power hitter coming back is Melanie Goolsby. We’ll be a young team as only three or four seniors have signed up."
The new RHHS girls basketball coach is Elizabeth Lyons. She replaces Wade Wright who was the interim coach after Colin Smith departed the team this past December.
Lyons is currently an assistant on the college-level girls team at Armstrong. She met the team on Friday.
"I could not be more excited," Lyons said. "They’re an amazing group of young women. Their story of last season was an amazing tale (underdogs who went to state). I truly believe that, by adding my knowledge and a couple more moves to their arsenal, we can go further next year."
Lyons, a self-proclaimed "gym rat" and "certified coach’s daughter", is a second generation basketball coach.
Her father coached on the pro and college circuit at Ashland University in Ohio. While enrolled at Ashland herself, Lyons took the role of student assistant on the girls basketball team. She also spent seven years as a basketball official.
While serving as top assistant and recruiting coordinator at AASU, she also furthered her education by attaining her masters in English. With her help, the Armstrong girls basketball team has a strong record, winning the Peach Belt Conference and producing two All-Americans this past season.
"I’ve been through an extensive learning process, and I’m looking forward to showing the girls of Richmond Hill how to be intelligent and athletic."
The new Wildcat boys basketball coach will be William Altman.
Altman is currently at Glennville Middle School. He has also coached at Long County High. At Tattnall, Altman has led his team to numerous championships including this year’s region title. He replaces last season’s coach, Tom Morris. The program has struggled for a while in regard to a win-loss record. Altman is confident he can turn that around.
Altman himself is a past star basketball player at Pinewood Christian Academy. He even attended Jimmy Hires’ basketball camp in the summer months and is glad to be reunited with Hires as his athletic director. You may recall that Hires himself had a famed run as coach of the RHHS basketball team. Altman hopes to pull from Hires’ knowledge and advisement to bring back the glory days of RHHS boys basketball.
"I’m excited and eager to get started," said Altman, who met with players on Thursday and has an upcoming meeting with players and their parents on Tuesday.
"My strongest asset is the structure that I believe I can bring to this program," Altman continued. "Secondly, I am going to focus on a stronger defense."
On the North end, one varsity athletic change is imminent as tennis coach Tommy Gibbs is defecting to Chatham County. A replacement coach has yet to be named, but that person will have some big shoes to fill as Gibbs just wrapped up a blockbuster season.