By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Handing in his resignation as the football coach at his alma mater wasn’t easy for Nate Ayers. Turning around and informing his Holly Pond players of the decision, however, was almost unbearable.
“That’s the one thing that tore me up more than anything,” said Ayers, who officially turned in his notice to Bronco athletic director Steve Miller on Wednesday. “Telling them was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Ayers’ three-year reign atop the Green and White football program was full of highs and lows.
The low, an 0-10 season his first year (2010) on the job. The high, a gutsy run to the playoffs just one season later. In what turned out to be his last campaign as coach this past fall, Holly Pond finished 2-8, rounding out Ayers’ three-year record at 7-24.
“Spending my entire coaching career at Holly Pond has been an absolute blessing. For Ms. (Kim) Butler and coach (Steve) Miller to trust me with that opportunity means the world to me,” he said. “I did everything in my power to not only coach as hard as I could but instill standards in these kids. I feel we as an entire coaching staff have made a difference in these kids’ lives outside of football, and in the grand scheme of life, that’s what’s important.”
Ultimately, Ayers’ said his decision to step down had to do with shifting his focus from the kids on his football team to the one — for now — in his own home. Come September — right in the heart of football season — that number is set to double when Ayers and his wife are expecting a baby boy.
“Coaching football anywhere is completely consuming. It’s extremely hard to keep your priorities straight,” he said. “But I’ve got to take care of my responsibilities here. I need to take care of my family.”
As the school’s athletic director, Miller was appreciative of the time Ayers has spent atop the Broncos’ football program. He said there were no problems with Ayers on the adminstrative side and that Ayers had “our full support to continue.”
“It was a decision that he made,” Miller said.
With the first football practice of the fall nearly three months away, Holly Pond is looking to fill the now-vacant position as soon as possible. Miller said he met with the team on Thursday morning to fill everyone in on how he plans to proceed.
“I told them we had their best interests at heart and that we’ll do the best we can to provide them with a quality high school football coach,” he said.
Resignations have run rampant in Cullman County’s prep sports scene in the past month. Wade Knight stepped down as the athletic director, boys basketball coach and baseball coach at St. Bernard in March, while Fairview basketball coaches Greg Boatright (boys) and Cheryl Mangum (girls) vacated their posts earlier this month.
Aggie athletic director Chris Gambrill quickly announced former middle school coach Mary Hartline as Mangum’s replacement.
See a future edition of The Times for a story on Boatright’s resignation.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.