By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Almost as stunning as how they arrived three years ago, David and Dawn Barger apparently are leaving Lake County.
The husband and wife head coaching duo — hired in the spring of 2010 as a unique package to head the football and boys’ basketball programs, respectively — each tendered their resignation letters Thursday to school administration.
Dawn, who made Tennessee prep history as the first female to coach a boys’ hoop team to a state championship when she directed the Falcons to the Class 1A title in the first of her three seasons at Tiptonville, has accepted a position as a girls’ assistant at brand-new Stewart’s Creek High School, which will open its doors in Williamson County this fall.
David has reportedly taken the job as defensive coordinator at Giles County High School.
He said he and Dawn were told “to take the weekend to think about it” when offering their resignation letters Thursday, but didn’t anticipate their decisions to change.
David, who was in his second stint heading the Falcon grid fortunes after an earlier four-season period in the same capacity, called it a “family decision” that would allow him, Dawn and 5-year-old son Devin to be closer to his parents.
He also said, though, the decision by new LCHS administration to eliminate in-school practice during the day was a factor in his and his wife’s decision that will undoubtedly leave both programs scrambling to fill the vacancies just a little more than a week before the state-mandated two-week summer dead period.
“The opportunity to get back to Middle Tennessee where we’ll be closer to family played a big part,” David told the Messenger Thursday. “Dawn and I just felt like that it was in our best interest as a family.
“There’s been a lot of turnover and change from the administration that hired us three years ago and brought me back to Lake County for a second time. The athletic period being done away with was big for us, but it wasn’t the end-all. It did have an impact, though.
“I’ve talked to other coaches who’ve had it taken away, and they say it does impact your program. Especially in a rural area like ours, I think that’ll be the case. It affects how and when the kids get home and what you can realistically ask of them because everything is after-hours, as far as school goes.”
Dawn, who directed the Falcons to the state tournament in each of her three seasons — including an improbable run to the finals last March after having to forfeit several games due to the use of an inelgible player — could not be reached for comment.
David, who led LCHS to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons at the helm with a three-year stint at Chattanooga Central in between, said he didn’t think the lesser roles he and Dawn would take in their new jobs was a negative.
The Falcons posted a 5-6 record last year.
“It’s really not that big a deal for me to step back into a coordinator position, and it’s actually something I’d thought about doing when I came back to Lake County three years ago,” he said. “I’m actually looking forward to just coaching and scheming and not having to do so many other things that take up a head coach’s time.
“I’m 38 years old now, and I know that’s still young in most people’s eyes, but my priorities have changed a great deal now that I have a 5-year-old son. I’ve missed T-ball games, I’ve missed flag football games, and it’s tugged at my heart strings. I believe this will be a good thing.
“As far as for Dawn, she’s excited about being part of a building a program from the ground up at a new school.”
Published in The Messenger 6.14.13