Howard put his words into action Wednesday when he stepped down as the basketball coach of the Tigers for “family reasons” after two seasons with the boys and one season prior as the girls head coach.
Howard will remain a teacher at the school.
“It was a family decision. My wife is going through a career transition and is going back to work full time and is also looking to go to school at night. My deciding factor was making myself available for my wife and children as my wife makes this career change,” Howard said of his decision to step down. “I love Adairsville. It’s a great administration, great kids. The program is in good shape. I love coaching, absolutely love it. I’ll miss the competition. I’ll miss the practices, but I’m called to be a coach at home first. I want to be available for my wife. I want to be able for her to pursue another career opportunity and coaching takes a lot of time.”
Howard went 23-27 in two seasons as the boys coach after taking over for Jacob Travis. He increased the Tigers’ winning percentage from the previous year in each of his two seasons and led Adairsville to its second winning season in the past seven years in the 2012-13 season, finishing 13-11.
He was an assistant coach for the boys team for three years before becoming the head coach of the girls team.
“I feel like the program is in great shape. I feel like we challenged the kids, instilled work ethic. Character has been our biggest thing,” Howard said. “We had one of the best seasons in well over a decade and it was an awesome experience for our guys. Do I feel good about the program and the work that we’ve done? Absolutely. My prayer and my hope is that the next guy will continue to build and improve even more.”
In his one season as the girls coach, his team held a record of 8-16.
Adairsville athletic director and current girls basketball coach Meredith Barnhill said Howard was a role model for his players, as well as a coach.
“I don’t think any of those kids doubted that if they needed him, that they could go talk to him. He was the male role model in a lot of our kids’ lives,” Barnhill said of Howard. “Coach Howard did some good things for us. We are proud of the direction the program is moving in. He worked hard for our boys and our boys worked hard for him.”
Howard hopes to continue to be a mentor to the players at Adairsville High.
“I’ve always told my players that I wanted them to be the best they could be in all phases of their life and to be the best you can be. This is a time when for me to be the best husband and father I can be,” Howard said.
Howard believes the Adairsville basketball program will continue to improve in his absence.
“They’re going to find a good guy for this job,” Howard said. “It’s on the interstate, in a great location. They’ll probably get candidates from all over the South. Somebody is going to be super blessed to get it.”
Howard was the assistant varsity boys basketball coach at Model High from 2002-2007; assistant varsity coach at Rome High from 2007-2008 (a team that reached the Elite 8 in the Class AAAA GHSA state playoffs); and had been assistant varsity coach under Travis at Adairsville from 2008-2011.
He was the assistant boys track and field coach at Adairsville from 2009-2010.
Howard lettered four years at East Rome High, playing in the state basketball playoffs three of those seasons and winning two region championships, and was a four-year basketball letterman at Shorter College, where he led the conference in 3-point shooting in 1999-2000 and was ranked No. 3 in 3-point shooting percentage throughout NAIA Division I basketball in 2000.
Howard did not discount the possibility of him returning to the sideline in the future.
“I don’t know that I can get out of coaching completely. It’s in my blood to always be coaching faith, basketball, something to somebody all the time,” he said. “I do know I need to take a year to dedicate to my teaching, my community, my wife, my family and my church life. I guess it can be considered kind of a sabbatical. A part of me feels in my heart that I’m not done permanently, but I would love to stay here and be here and this is the place I want to work.”