TIFTON - Long time Tift County High head basketball coach Tommy Blackshear unexpectedly resigned his position as teacher and coach Friday. He announced his decision to his team during a meeting yesterday morning.

"I've been here a long time," said Blackshear during a telephone interview Friday afternoon. "When you've been some place for a long time, you get the feeling that there might be something more out there."

Blackshear has been a member of the Tift County High coaching staff for 18 of his 19-year teaching and coaching career. He came to Tift at the beginning of the 1985 school year. Two years later he went to Windsor Forest High where he spent a year at the Savannah school.

"Then coach Brodie came and got me and made me the head basketball coach," Blackshear said.

Since becoming the Blue Devils head basketball coach in 1988, Blackshear's teams have won 10 region titles, been to the final four of the state basketball tournament three times and captured the AAAA state championship in 1996. The Blue Devil cagers have been to the state tournament 11 of the past 12 seasons.

Blackshear's resignation comes on the heels of a recent unusual personnel move that saw him named assistant principal at TCHS only to suddenly back away from the selection a few days later.

"What I really wanted was to have my class load cut and perform some limited assistant principal or supervisory duties," Blackshear explained. "I didn't really want to become a full-time assistant principal, so I asked to be let out of that decision."

According to Blackshear, Tift County High principal Mike Duck was disappointed in his decision to resign.

"He (Duck) hated to hear my decision, but he felt like I'd be an asset wherever I went," Blackshear said.

"He was very supportive."

"Coach Blackshear will be hard to replace," said Duck. "He had a great record here."

Also disappointed was Tift County High head football coach and athletic director Tommy Seward.

"It's a shock," said Seward. "But I know that when you're at a place for a long time, things can get complicated.

Seward echoed Duck's statement admitting that replacing Blackshear would be a difficult task.

"You don't replace somebody like Tommy Blackshear," Seward said.

"It's like trying to replace Nancy (Mark)," he added, referring to Tift County's former girls softball coach whose teams won five state championships and numerous region titles.

At this time Blackshear is seeking another teaching and coaching position.

"This is sort of a leap of faith I'm taking," he said.

Blackshear becomes the latest of several Tift County coaches to resign during this school year. Earlier this year football coaches Emmett Bowers and David Cape submitted their resignations. More recently, football coach Tyson Summers made the decision to return to Presbyterian College, his alma mater, to pursue a master's degree and serve as a graduate assistant on the Blue Hose coaching staff.

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