By Zack Huffman
Mt. Zion girls basketball Dock Gammage discussed the prospects of leaving Mt. Zion for another school with his wife last fall, when he was contacted by a representative from Forsyth County.
"I said there was only one school I would ever leave for and that's Union Grove because my kids are in this district," said Gammage. "It's always tough to not be around your kids. Being across the street would be nice just so I could see them more during basketball."
When former girls basketball coach Tom Murray announced his resignation so he could coach volleyball at the newly opened Locust Grove High School, Union Grove was left in need of a coach.
Gammage had no idea that he would have the opportunity to become that coach just a few months later when Union Grove principal Tom Smith contacted him with a job offer.
"Out of the blue, he e-mailed me and said his girls basketball coach had resigned and didn't know if I would have any interest in the job," said Gammage.
In Gammage's first season as head coach for Mt. Zion, he led his squad to the state Final Four. Most recently, he brought the Lady Bulldogs back to the state tournament last season.
At Union Grove, Gammage will takeover a program that has historically struggled, going 5-17 last season.
Gammage is not the only coach leaving Mt. Zion. Former head football coach and athletic director Jarrett Laws is leaving to start the program at Charles Drew High School and bringing a few coaches with him.
According to Gammage, acting Athletic Director Jason Battles came to him when he started learning that he Laws would not be the only coaching leaving Mt. Zion for Charles Drew.
At the time, Gammage did not anticipate moving and told Battles that he was here to stay.
"It wasn't too much longer that I got that e-mail and went back to him," said Gammage. "He said 'you're kidding. You can't leave."
Not wanting to risk them finding out their rumor, Gammage addressed his Mt. Zion team just two days after making his decision to switch schools.
"It was probably one of the hardest things I'd ever done," he said. "I think I can count two times in my life when I've cried and that was one of them. It was painful."
Since then, Gammage has also met with his new squad at Union Grove.
"One of the goals that I think is realistic is to get to state," said Gammage. "I know the region I'm going to is full of powerhouses. They've got some good teams but I still want to be able to compete night in and night out."
Union Grove competes within region 2-AAAAA which is home to Redan and Stephenson who won state championships in 2009 and 2008, respectively.
Gammage does not expect to find a significant difference in the kids he coached at Mt. Zion and the ones he will coach at Union Grove.
"They're all kids that want to play," he said. "I've been told the biggest difference is the pay but I don't really care about the money. They money isn't why I coach. To me, if you're doing it for the money, you shouldn't be doing it anyway."
For Gammage, his memories and the connections he developed with each and everyone he coached, will be the greatest things he takes with him as he leave Mt. Zion.
"I have only good memories of everything. You never forget the kids," he said. "The ones that were on the final four team and the ones that were on the 6-17 team. You always enjoy winning, but the relationships were just as good in both."
Most importantly, he hopes his former squad understands the difficulty that he endured in making his decision.
"I don't want kids to think Mt. Zion is some bad place and everybody is abandoning it, because I love Mt. Zion," he said. "If I wasn't going to Union Grove I'd go to Mt. Zion for my career."