By Doug Gorman
After 15 years at Jonesboro High School, including the last nine as boys' head basketball coach, Mack Cain is living the Cardinals' athletic program.
But Cain isn't hanging up his whistle.
The veteran coach has accepted a teaching position at Northgate High School in Coweta County. Cain has also been named the school's new head volleyball coach and assistant boys' basketball coach.
Leaving Jonesboro wasn't an easy decision for Cain, but in the end the desire to spend more time with his two boys was the deciding factor. Cain's children will eventually attend Northgate High School.
"It's never easy to leave a place where you have worked so long, but when I weighed the options, I decided this was the best time for my children's sake," he said.
Cain leaves after winning 114 games as coach of the Cardinals.
His most successful era came when brothers Harry and Toney Douglas led the Cardinals to the state championship game during the 2002-2003 season before losing to Wheeler.
Toney Douglas is a freshman starter at Auburn and Harry Douglas plays football at Louisville.
"I'll never forget walking off the floor after the state championship game and being greeted by my mom," he said. "I told her even though we lost, I was so proud of these kids, because we did things the right way."
That way of coaching helped Cain build a special relationship with his players, even when the Cardinals were struggling to put wins on the scoreboard.
"We have had good kids come through here," he said. "There are many of my former players I still talk too. They turned out to be good people when they left here, and I would like to think I had a little to do with that. You can't put a price tag on the relationship I have had with my players."
Cain has also build a solid relationship with many of his fellow teachers and coaches.
"I have been here 15 years, so you are going to build relationships that are like family. That is going to be hard to replace. I have taught P.E. with (softball and tennis coach) Jeanine Conkle for 15 years, and I have been working with Don (Corr) (athletic director and AD) for that long too."
Corr said he will miss working with his long-time friend too, but the school's athletic director and baseball coach understands Cain's decision.
"I understand his desire to spend more time with his children," he said. "I have a daughter and the older they get, the tougher it is to be away from them. I just hope we can stay in touch."
Cain is looking forward to his new career move.
"It will be nice to take a step back as a head basketball coach and work for somebody else for a time."
Cain also looks forward to the challenge of coaching girls volleyball. When Jonesboro first started its program, Cain assisted head volleyball coach Dan Maehlman.
Maehlman has turned Jonesboro into a perennial state tournament team.
"I'm sure I'll be giving Dan several calls seeking advice the closer we get to the season," he said.
This won't be Cain's first experience coaching a girls' team. Cain also served a short stint as the Lady Cardinals' soccer coach.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "Coaching girls is a lot different than coaching boys. Sometimes, I think girls are more coacheable."
Cain hopes to return someday to the bench as a head basketball coach.
"I don't think this is the end of my career as a head basketball coach," he said. "When the time is right, I would like to be a head basketball coach again."