Photo by Derrick Mahone / Union Grove softball coach Rod Pipkin resigned after guiding the Lady Wolverines to the Class AAAAA championship.
McDONOUGH — After 120 victories and a state championship, Union Grove softball coach Rod Pipkin decided he needed a break.
Pipkin stepped down two weeks ago as Lady Wolverines coach after guiding them to the Class AAAAA championship, the first for the program and first in any team sport in Union Grove history.
“That’s what you work for,” Pipkin said. “Nobody in that school had ever done it.”
Pipkin spent nine years with Union Grove softball, the last four as head coach. He leaves with a record of 120-33-4, three trips to Columbus and the state title.
But it came at a price. Coaching took much of Pipkin’s time away from his family. He has two daughters, one a junior at West Georgia and another a junior at Union Grove. His wife teaches at Rocky Creek Elementary in Hampton.
“It’s just a family decision,” Pipkin said. “People just don’t realize how much time you put in as a coach. And to do it right, you put even more in. Between making schedules, ordering supplies, ordering equipment, cutting the grass, maintaining the equipment. You do everything in the program. It’s not just coaching games.
“What I won’t miss are the parents. Ninety-five percent are good.”
Despite his departure, Pipkin is sure to be busy. He said he’ll still be an assistant coach on the baseball team. He’ll still run the scoreboard at basketball games. He’ll still teach business essentials and facilitate the high school’s online classes.
But it won’t be the kind of grind he’s been through since 2009 when he was promoted from assistant to head softball coach.
“When you’re an assistant coach, you don’t put in near the hours as a head coach,” Pipkin said.
Now, he’ll have time to visit his daughters. Now, he’ll have time to go to Atlanta Braves games. He just ordered the Warren Spahn ticket package, 20 home games that includes Opening Day against the Philadelphia Phillies.
And yet, Pipkin wouldn’t rule out a return to coaching after both his daughters graduate.
“Probably possibly then,” he said.
Regardless, he expects big things from next season’s Union Grove team. They might have to win differently, he said, with the graduation of pitcher and slugger Megan Betsa.
“I’m expecting the 2013 team to go to Columbus,” Pipkin said. “The team’s going to be good.”