Thursday, February 27, 2014
Bob Bolton has roamed the North Augusta sidelines for four years, providing commentary for the Jackets radio broadcast.
When Bolton heard the news that Dan Pippin, North Augusta's head football coach and athletic director, had accepted the same position at Greenwood, he was “saddened.”
“I was sad from the standpoint of him leaving North Augusta,” Bolton said. “I'm extremely happy for him and his family for the opportunity at Greenwood. I know he's going to do great things there.”
Pippin, who led the North Augusta program for eight seasons, said the decision to move on was one of the toughest he's ever made.
“I think it's a great community and there's a bunch of people, when we came in and were bad, who stuck behind us,” he said. “We had some guys who really got behind us and kind of said this is the way things need to be. (I'm going to miss) all the good things, all the positive things. When I was thinking about leaving, I didn't think about anything negative. I thought, ‘Man, I love this place.' The game day atmosphere is the best I've ever been around in a high school.”
During Pippin's first season, in which the Jackets compiled a 1-10 record, Bolton was able to give the coach some words of encouragement, which still resonated in Pippin's final season.
“I remember the last game of his first season, when we were 1-10,” Bolton said. “After the game, nobody was talking to Coach Pippin. He was just standing on the field with his wife. I went over to him and said, ‘Stay the course,' and that's been our motto ever since. He's always had his teams prepared. Even when they lost, they were never losers. He built North Augusta into a great program and that will be his legacy.”
The toughest part of Pippin's decision was leaving behind his players.
“The kids, the players. That was it, the kids that we have, the young guys coming up are great,” he said. “There's some kids coming back with some real talent and have busted their butts to get to where they are. We've built some tradition, but the kids were the hardest thing about leaving. We've got good kids who work hard here. I think they'll be able to do the same thing (as this year). Our motto or theory is ‘Next man up' and that's true about the coaches, too. If they take that philosophy to heart, they'll be fine. I expect to see North Augusta in the playoffs again next year, they'll compete for a region championship.”
From his place on the North Augusta sidelines, Bolton saw Pippin's interactions with the players firsthand.
“Dan, he loves every kid that has ever played for him,” Bolton said. “He wants them to be successful in football and with their grades. He's a complimentary coach, he tells the kids when they do a good job. He makes sure they know that he appreciates what they do, especially the linemen. We don't see what they do, but, coach always knows when they do a good job.”
John Murphy, principal of North Augusta High School, said Pippin will be tough to replace.
“We're going to miss him,” he said. “I'll miss him on a personal level and on a professional level. He was a great employee and did great things for North Augusta.”
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.