By Doug Gorman
Eagle's Landing coach Donnie Byrom, who guided the Lady Golden Eagles softball and girls' basketball teams to region and state prominence, resigned Friday afternoon.
Byrom has accepted the head coaching positions in both sports at Pickens County High School in Jasper.
"It was a family decision," he said. "It's a great place to raise my kids. They put a lot of pride in their school and emphasize athletic success. It's definitely a school where I would want my daughters to play ball."
Byrom arrived at Eagle's Landing in 1996 and coached one year of junior varsity football, six years of fast-pitch softball and seven years of basketball.
Byrom served as co-head coach of the softball team along with Blake Lyons. The two coaches took the Lady Golden Eagles through the transition period from slow-pitch to fast-pitch.
Eagle's Landing became a state power in fast-pitch softball almost overnight.
Riding the arm of pitcher Sarah Wallace, Eagle's Landing finished as the state runner-up in just its second season. The squad has since won three region titles and compiled a 127-46 record.
Byrom jump started the girls basketball program, taking it from a team that had won just 14 times from 1991-96 to a team that contended for region titles.
The former Eagles' Landing coach established the winning attitude in just his first season as the Lady Golden Eagles won 11 times the first season.
Byrom leaves the program with six straight winning seasons in region play, one regular-season region title and two appearances in the state tournament.
The Lady Golden Eagles made it to the state's Sweet 16 in 1999 and at one stretch of the season were ranked second in the state.
He leaves with a 116-72 overall coaching record for basketball, including a 26-4 mark against other Henry County opponents.
"I feel like we really did some great things in softball and some very good things in basketball," he said.
The coach watched as six athletes in both sports signed athletic scholarships.
Keisha McClinic, who signed a basketball scholarship with Middle Tennessee State, had her jersey retired.
Byrom gives former Henry County coach and current athletic director Chuck Miller credit for helping him land the job at Pickens County.
"He knows so many people," Byrom said. "He really put in a good word for me. The one thing I missed about last season when we played Henry County was looking over there and not seeing coach Miller on the Henry County sidelines."
The coach inherits a Pickens County job with a rich tradition, especially in basketball.
Byrom said he knew he had found a new home after officials had Pickens County held a "meet the coach night."
"They really rolled out the red carpet for me and my family," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting started in both sports."
Byrom knows he is fillingsome big shows. Former Pickens' County basketball coach Roy Cowart retired two years ago as one of the state's winningest coaches.
The softball team is getting its first taste of winning. The program returns a pitcher who is getting some NCAA Division 1 recruiting interest.