By Zack Huffman
Coach Jarrett Laws may be on his way to imbark on a new career at Clayton County's new high school, but that does not mean he finds joy in leaving behind the football program he helped rejuvenate at Mt. Zion.
Laws, who was recently named Athletic Director and Head Football Coach of the as-yet-to-be-named new Clayton County High School, did not take his decision to leave Mt. Zion lightly.
"It's one of the most difficult things that I've ever had to do," said Laws. "Every day I've come to work, I've felt like the luckiest person on Earth. I can never express all the gratitude I've had towards the Mt. Zion family."
Laws first came to Clayton County in 2005, from Florida where he had served as head football coach for a new program.
"I came out of a situation that was not ideal," he said. "I was in the midst of trying to reorganize my career."
According to Laws, his interview for Mt. Zion's head coaching position was his first among several, when he moved to the area. After his interview with the principal and Athletic Director at Mt. Zion, Laws decided to skip every one of his other interviews.
"I fell in love the moment I got here," said Laws about his time at Mt. Zion. "I could love Mt. Zion no more than if I was a student that graduated from here. I've been allowed to grow here. Mt. Zion has done more for me than I could ever do for it."
According to Laws, he ultimately came to the decision to leave when his principal at Mt. Zion, Gary Townsend was chosen to assume the same role at the new school.
"Once my principal went over, I felt it was a good fit," said Laws. "The opportunity to get something started from the ground up was something I couldn't pass up."
In building a new football program, Laws will have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.
"You're responsible for everything, even how well the grass grows," he said. "It requires a dedication and patience that very few people have."
One of the biggest obstacles that any coach faces when starting up a new program is getting the student body onboard through the inevitable growing pains that are bound to take place.
"The first thing you have to do is get the kids to see the big picture. Everybody is so used to instant gratification. They want to win now," he said. "You have to notice incremental progress. Rather than build a good team, you want to build a good program that lasts."
With just a freshman and sophomore class, Laws will not expect his team to win a state title in their first season out. By the time those sophomores reach their senior year, that is when Laws expects to see something special.
"By year three we'd like to be competitive," he said. "The mentality of excellence without excuses will have permeated the whole program to the point that by the third year, the program should be competitive."
Although, the new school is still in need of a name, a committee comprised of members of Clayton County's School Board has recommended the name Charles R. Drew High School.
"I trust the decision that the board and principal make," said Laws. "As long as it has a positive impact on the students, I think anything would be fine."
The new school will also have to decide on a new mascot to go along with their blue and yellow school colors.
Students living within the school's district will get the opportunity to vote for the mascot by telephone within the next week.
Among the options are The Wolverines, Titans and Spartans.
"I'm a little partial to the Titans," said Laws. "But whatever the children decide, we'll go forth with it with pride."