After an historic season that saw the Dawson County varsity boys’ team post an overall record of 27-5, defeat the GAC Spartans to capture the 7-AAA regional title and finish the season with an appearance in the Elite Eight round of the GHSA State playoffs Head Coach Chad Pittman took to the podium at the team’s awards banquet on April 15 and announced that he was stepping down as the head coach.
“I told everybody at the banquet, I’m not upset, I’m not mad, the three years I have had here so far have been terrific,” Pittman said. “I had always felt, that for me, I didn’t want to stay to long. There’s tons of stuff that I am going to miss and still love about coaching and there are some things I am not going to miss.”
Pittman has been with Dawson County for three years, coaching the team to a record of 60-29 and three straight state playoff appearances. He came to Dawson County at the end of a 23-year career that included coaching the boys’ program at Chestatee High School for two years, four years as the girls’ coach at Duluth High School and his first nine years with the girls’ team at Jackson High.
During the career he led 6 teams to the state playoffs, with the deepest run being last year’s elite eight appearance. He coached roughly two dozen students to scholarships at the collegiate level, sending an amazing 11 girls onto upper level programs during his Duluth.
“I have been blessed to have so many kids go on to play at the college level,” Pittman said. “I’ve been to weddings, graduations, and now I’m meeting their kids. It has always been about the kids.”
Pittman took some time away from the program over spring break and really began to think about the demands of coaching and how those demands had become more and more consuming over the years as travel teams and year-round basketball began to dominate the off-season of high school basketball.
“To do it right, the day and age we live in, it has ultimately become year-round,” Pittman said. “In the last 6-10 years it has really become that way, the big districts before that, but now even in the smaller communities it’s gotten to that point to, if only playing basketball October to February, you’re way behind.”
Upon his return from vacation, Pittman realized that his decision had been made and immediately sat down with Athletic Director Jason Gibson.
“I was a little taken aback by the decision, but I understood where he was coming from,” Gibson said. “You don’t have to worry about anything with your basketball program with (Pittman) in charge. He gives the kids every opportunity to win, runs a really good program.”
The hunt for Pittman’s replacement is already underway with Gibson estimating that by the time the two-week application process comes to a close the district will have received between 35-50 applications which he acknowledges will make the process challenging.
“It will take some time to go through them all and get them sorted out,” Gibson said. “In the end, we want to make sure we make the right choice for Dawson County.”
Although he is not involved in the hiring process, Pittman was not surprised to hear about the level of interest in the position, attributing most of the interest to the current success of the program.
“Coaches are all the same animal. They look at the record to see if they are interested,” Pittman said. “Then they push the roster button to see how many players are coming back, and we are in pretty good shape in both of those categories.”
Pittman plans to continue teaching math at Hightower Academy and anticipates that he has about five more years until he can contemplate complete retirement. As he looked ahead to the immediate future it became clear that he hadn’t made any specific plans beyond enjoying the new found time with his family and friends.
“I’m going to enjoy this summer I think, instead of being at camp all summer,” Pittman said. “Next Thanksgiving will be the first time in 23 years that I’m not in a tournament for Thanksgiving. Christmas, you play basketball all of Christmas with tournaments and stuff, so I just felt like for me, it’s time.”