Community High School announced Friday that boys' basketball coach Mike Edmondson has been relieved of his duties.
Principal Robert Ralston said each program is evaluated at the end of every year and, in this instance, he felt that the boys basketball program was ready for a change of direction.
Edmondson was head coach for 20 years and coached in over 500 games, compiling a 280-260 record. His teams won four district titles, placed second five times, won one regional tournament and made two sub-state appearances.
His dismissal comes after the Vikings won 12 games with a lineup that had no seniors and only one junior. It was the best finish in recent memory for the boys' team.
Most sports observers are keenly aware that coaching is often a carousel of individuals that give of themselves unselfishly, often times sacrificing family and social life for their teams and for the satisfaction that helping kids grow and reach their potential brings them.
Astute evaluators of sports programs realize that coaches hold tenuous positions and are often held accountable for situations that are beyond their control. In fact, there are so many uncontrollable factors involved with running a team that it's a wonder any sane person would want the job.
We should all be more thankful for the men and women, not just in sports, who work with our youth on a daily basis. Teaching and coaching are among the toughest jobs on the planet.
It's an amazing accomplishment when a coach lasts 20 years in a profession where the average life expectancy at one school is a little over four years.
We should spend more time thanking them for their efforts and show them our support. I know that we are not always going to agree with methodology and we may be diametrically opposed philosophically, but we have to pull together for the betterment of our youth. What better way can we teach them?
I asked Edmondson to summarize his 20 years on the bench and in the classroom.
"My favorite memories are in the early years when I came to Community from Tullahoma as an outsider and was welcomed with open arms," Edmondson said. "Ed Gray (then Commnity's principal) hired me and I had never even seen the inside of the school. We won the district in my first season (1988) for the first time in about 40 years and I was hooked from there.
"We had several more outstanding seasons, but the team that I will remember the most was in 1989. We won the regional tournament and went on to Sub-State. We lost in overtime to Wayne County and I will never forget how devastated the kids were after the game. That team got the most from their abilities and was driven to succeed.
"I will never forget hugging Jon Martin at the end of the game after the region because he almost cracked a couple of ribs for me."
When asked to name some of his most memorable characters he mentioned Martin, Jason Blackburn, Troy Harrison, Scott Reed and Chris Reed. He also wanted to thank former Times-Gazette sports editor Bo Melson for his coverage of the team and for helping him through the early years.
Martin is now an assistant coach at Shelbyville Central, and Harrison covered Community athletics for several seasons as a sports writer.
Edmondson says that the biggest changes that he has seen in his 20 years have been the advent of the computer and video game age.
"Kids have so many different opportunities to amuse themselves these days. It seems that they no longer spend as much time out in the yard playing ball anymore. Our society as a whole has become more of a 'me' generation. The community used to come out in record numbers to support the team and now the stands are filled with parents that are here just to see their kid play. The team concept is deteriorating as a result. I don't know if we will ever see it come back with the way things are these days."
Edmondson will most likely be teaching his last class at the school at which he has spent a majority of his adult life because he intends to continue coaching.
"I would like to say that I have enjoyed my time here with the Vikings," Edmondson said. "I will miss the staff here the most. I have made many friends here and I cherish each and every one of them. I can't tell you how many have entered this office and offered a prayer with me over the years. Times change and we have to accept that. Robert (Ralston) decided that it was time for that to happen here and I have to respect that.
"I will always hold Community School, the kids and the staff in the highest regard. I wish them nothing but the best in the future and my thoughts and prayers will be with them. I have no doubt that the program is headed in the right direction and I would give anything to finish the job but that doesn't mean that I won't be keeping close tabs on the team.
"Thank you to all of the people that have been so supportive over the years. It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to serve this community. It has been an experience that I will never forget and I will treasure the memories generated in this gym. No matter where I go, I will always bleed Purple and Gold.
Thanks again, and may God bless."