Valdosta Daily Times

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March 15, 2013

Lowndes’ Garner steps down

Vikettes’ coach leaves behind winning tradition

VALDOSTA — After nine years on the job, Shan Garner has stepped down as the head coach of the girls basketball team at Lowndes High School.

He finished his Lowndes coaching career with 186 wins and 56 losses — a winning percentage of .768. He led the Vikettes to four Region 1 championships, most recently in 2012.

Garner will be walking away from the coaching and education profession and will begin working as a produce broker for South Georgia Produce.

With his new employment, Garner says that while he will have two busy seasons at his new job, he will still have ample time to spend with his two children and wife, Maria.

“South Georgia Produce is a company owned by a farmer that I grew up working for since I was 11 years old,” said Garner, who admitted spending time with his family was a “major reason” for the career change.

“My hours are pretty good. There are two growing seasons and the afternoons will be free and I can go watch my kids play. I’m a family guy first and always have been. I want the opportunity to watch my kids grow up and watch them play. My daughter is 12, and in six years she will be moving out on her own and will be starting her adult life. I want to spend the most time with her as I can.”

With his resignation, Garner leaves behind a winning tradition at Lowndes. In his nine seasons, he won over 75 percent of his games, won four region championships and posted at least 20 wins in seven consecutive seasons, a streak that came to an end this season when the Vikettes’ finished with a 16-10 record.

Garner has also been named Region 1 Coach of the Year three times, most recently coming following the Vikettes’ 2012 regular season and tournament championships.

“I’ve been fortunate and blessed with good players, and blessed with good assistant coaches,” Garner said. “Coaches are not magicians and I’ve had good players here. They’ve bought into our system. I’m proud of that run. I’m fortunate to work in a great school system like this. This move isn’t because I’m disgruntled against this school. This decision was family based.”

With Garner spending his days teaching physical education at Lowndes and his evening/nights in the basketball gymnasium, he said he often missed out on his kids’ extracurricular activities.

“I hated missing my kids’ tournaments on the weekends and having to choose other people’s kids over my own,” Garner said. “And I’m going to choose mine every time. I want to be Daddy for a while. I want to be the dad in the stands cheering on my kids.”

Along with his success on the court, Garner was able to produce talented individuals in the classroom. Along with the players that went on to attend college without playing basketball, Garner signed 24 players to college programs, headlined by Keira Peak, who signed with the University of Arkansas in 2010.

“I knew that number,” Garner said. “That is what we are here for. As coaches, you are not doing this job for a paycheck. Seeing them go to school and become a part of the system, tax payers, and members of the community and get a good job, those are the things we stress here.

“When people ask me about my legacy, that is the number I put out. To have them come back and sit in the stands and watch your games and give you hugs, that is what it is all about.”

As for if he will ever coach again, Garner didn’t shut that door completely. That just isn’t what he wants to be doing right now.

“I think I’ll coach again one day,” he said. “I’m not sure when; probably when my kids are grown up. But, I’ve been blessed.”

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