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DCHS head football coach resigns
2HMS Screen Shot 2015 01 14 at 10.14.38 AM
Jeff Lee

Dawson County High School Head Football Coach Jeff Lee will not be returning to lead the Tigers next year, after 12 years with the schools program.

Coach Lee tendered his resignation on Tuesday (Jan. 6), DCHS Principal Richard Crumley said. It is effective pending the school boards approval. He is a teacher in good standing, and he will have employment if he chooses to

retain that. He will be here the rest of the school year and may continue on after that, but he and I have not discussed it.

During Monday nights school board meeting, however, the board did not go into executive session to discuss personnel.

In addition to coaching, Lee teaches physical education at the school.

Id like to find another head coaching job, Lee said. Thats the fit Im looking for.

Lee said the schools football program will be in good shape.

Next years team is capable of having a very successful season on the field as we played as many as 15 freshmen and sophomores this season, Lee said. The cupboard is not bare.

During his tenure as the Tigers coach, Lee compiled a record of 48-74, including state playoff appearances in 2004 and

2012.

In the schools football history, the team reached the playoffs just twice, in 1999 and 2000, prior to Lees taking over.

The Tigers finished 2-8 this season.

My job was to try to do more than just win games, which is great, Lee said, but to impact young mens lives forever

was probably the best accomplishment I can say we achieved.

Lees former and current players testify to that success.

DCHS PLAYERS RESPOND

DCHS 2013 graduate

Zack Martin played fullback and linebacker under Coach Lee during his four years at the school.

Coach Lee had a huge impact on me, Martin said. He taught me that no matter how bad it is, you have to keep going. Id fumble the ball, but on the next play, hed give it to me again. He had confidence in all of us. He never let us

quit.

Lee set high standards for himself and his players.

He wouldnt curse around us, Martin said, so hed say, biscuit or jiminy cricket. Players catch onto that sort of

stuff.

Martin now plays football for Union College in Kentucky, a spot he secured with Lees help. He plans to follow in Lees

footsteps by teaching and coaching when he graduates.

I want to have the same impact on kids lives like he had on me, Martin said. Ive learned that if you just give a kid a

chance, the skys the limit. He really loved his players. Hes such a good guy; fun to be around; always joking.

Its going to be hard for them to find another coach that puts in the time and cares as much as he did.

Andrew Grisby, a 2006 DCHS graduate, serves as the head football coach at a school in Byers, Colorado.

Coach Lee flat-out changed the direction of my life, Grisby said. I remember one time he put his arm around me

and said, Youre going to be a great coach. I never thought about coaching until that point. Its not just about coaching, its about affecting peoples lives. Thats what I live for, and I was shown that by Coach Lee.

In a voice broken with emotion, current DCHS varsity free safety Colin Glover said all the players are going to miss him.

He taught us to do everything with God, Glover said. Thats the biggest thing. I hate it that were losing such a good person, and that he lost his job.

IMPACT ON CURRENT PLAYERS

DCHS Senior and Tigers running back Jeff Partain said Coach Lee helped him grow up.

Coach always said football doesnt build character, it brings out whats there, Partain said. I would say Im a better person because of Coach Lee. He definitely modeled me into a better Christian. Ive grown up a lot since being on his team.

Partain will graduate in May and is considering playing football in college.

Coach is helping me look for a college if I want to keep playing football, he said. Im seriously thinking about that. Hes been a great coach.

Lee apparently had an unusual way of instilling confidence in his players.

Tigers quarterback Zachary Buchan, a senior, was surprised when he heard Coach Lee talking about him in front of a

roomful of people.

He said things I never really thought of myself as being, Buchan said. He called me great leader and a kid he would want on his team no matter where he was. That just blew me away.

Buchan said his goal is to play in the NFL and have a career.

Ive learned if youre going to do something, do it at the highest level, he said. Im going to major in math, get a masters in engineering, then go to law school. Aim small, miss small.

A DREAM COME TRUE

Early in his football career, Lee got a lucky break and went to play for the Atlanta Falcons, fulfilling a childhood dream.

I remember I was in 6th grade and watching the Falcons play, Lee said. I remember telling my dad, Im going to play for the Falcons.

When the NFL players went on strike in 1987, Lee was playing for the United

States Football League (USFL). He crossed the picket lines in Atlanta and suited up.

I got called a scab and all kinds of names that day, but it was my dream to play for the Falcons and I went

for it.

When the strike ended, Lee was out of a job.

Thats how I got into coaching, he said. I was forced into it. I had to quit playing and start working.

Lees coaching and leadership have left an indelible impression on many young lives.

I always believed you just love your players, encourage them and believe in them, and God takes care of

the rest, he said in a voice cracking with emotion.

Through his 12 years with the DCHS Tigers, Coach Lee and his players had a tradition of making a tunnel for

players, for fans, for moms -- anyone the coach thought deserved recognition. In football, as in most team

sports, coaches use analogies to drive points home.

Lees was an image of an hour glass.

I used to tell my freshmen, the hour glass gets turned when you start 9th grade, and when all the sand runs through it, your time at the school will be over, Lee said. It goes slow, but at the same time, fast.

When Lee announced to his players in the locker room last week that he was

leaving, they did something unexpected.

They formed a tunnel for me outside the locker room door, and I walked through it, he said, mistyeyed.

One of the boys said, Coach, your time here is over. Youre moving on to bigger things.

School officials said they will begin searching for Lees replacement.

We want to make sure we get a good fit for the program and the community, DCHS Principal Richard Crumley said.

We are very appreciative of the time and effort Coach Lee gave to DCHS. We wish him nothing but the best going

forward in whatever he chooses to do.

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