Tuesday May 24th, 2016 5:57PM

Joe Dix leaving East Hall boys basketball

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
RABBIITTOWN -- The coach that led the East Hall boys basketball team to the 2005 Class AA title, three state semifinal appearances and seven state playoff appearances in eight years is leaving Valhalla.

Calling it one of the hardest decisions he's ever had to make, coach Joe Dix informed players and faculty on Monday that he will be exiting the Vikings program.

"It's been a rough day," Dix said. "It's been difficult to know I'll be leaving the kids I've taught and coached."

Dix, who has coached at East Hall since graduating from North Georgia College and State University, will be moving on to take over another program in the state, though he declined to say where.

"I've had other offers, but they just weren't right," Dix said. "This one is the right fit for me, and I just feel like it's time for me to move on -- even though it's going to be very hard for me to go. I'm not going to something bigger and better, just different.

"This is a community school, and you really feel that community within the program. There's a tremendous fan base here, and the kids make it a really special place."

East Hall principal Jeff Cooper recognizes that replacing Dix will be a big task.

"He's been a tremendous asset to our school as a person first off, and he's also been an amazing coach," Cooper said of Dix. "It's a big blow for the Vikings community. I don't think any coach has formed the kind of relationship he had with our kids, which was truly special."

Vikings athletic director George Morgan noted that Dix is more than just the high school basketball coach.

"He's pretty entrenched as a member of not just the school but the whole East Hall community," Morgan said. "He put so much of himself into the program and made himself a very visible part of the outside community."

Cooper said East Hall will immediately begin the search for Dix's replacement.

"We would like to get someone that fits the same mold that coach Dix set for our teams -- the same style that he inherited from coach (Seth) Vining, when he took over eight years ago and made successful with his own style," Cooper said. "Our program has been in good shape for quite some time, and coach Dix is leaving it in great shape."

East Hall went 22-8 last season, reaching the second round of the Class AA playoffs.

For his part, Dix would like to see top assistant and East Hall grad Jarvis Davenport get a shot at the position.

"He's ready. I hope he's involved in whatever decision process they make," Dix said of Davenport, who has been an assistant with East Hall basketball in some fashion since 2001. "I'd love to see him get it, and if they ask my two cents, that's what I'll tell them."

Morgan noted that the school is still organizing a plan of how to pursue its next coach.

"We just got notification (Monday), and we're busy trying to get the school shut down from the end of the year and are tying up those loose ends, so we have only really started having discussions," Morgan said. "We have no definite plans yet, but we're getting those plans together."

Dix joined the Vikings varsity program as an assistant coach for the 1996-97 season, taking over the program in 2004-05 and winning a state title in his first season in charge.

"This is the only place I've ever known (as a coach)," said Dix, a native of Tuskegee, Ala., who played a year at DeKalb College (now Georgia Perimeter College) for a year before moving to North Georgia and playing for the Saints for three seasons. "That was the beginning of it."

Dix was hired as a teacher at White Sulphur Elementary School, where he learned that there were two openings within the East Hall basketball program.

"I was either going to coach ninth grade boys or junior varsity girls," Dix said. "There were two of us interviewing, and I said I'd take the job the other guy didn't want, and he picked JV girls because the stipend was a little better. I interviewed with coach Vining in shorts and a t-shirt."

It was the start of an ultra-successful relationship, as Dix assisted Vining through two state championships (2001, '03) and five state semifinal appearances before taking over and leaving his own legacy with the program.

"We've had some great teams, and I'll always look back fondly on the state championship teams of course -- as well as the Gainesville games, the North Hall games, the national tournaments," Dix said. "Going to Alaska and winning this year was really special. But what I'll miss most is just the yearly thing of getting things together with a new group every year.

"I don't think people know the character of the kids at East Hall. I rarely have to deal with any off-the-court issues, and they all want to work hard and do what you ask. The parents are also supportive, and they've really allowed me to coach their kids."
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 3 years ago )
Top 10 sports stories of the year: 2012 one for the history books
2012 has been all things to all people in the sports world. The last 12 months have run the gamut of emotions and given fans and spectators much to awe, rue and everything in between.
2:33PM ( 3 years ago )
College Football Hall to break ground in Atlanta
Groundbreaking for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta will be Jan. 28 and the museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
2:15PM ( 3 years ago )
Boys basketball: Dawson County storms to Battle of States crown, 13-0 mark
The Dawson boys basketball team extended their perfect start to the season to 13-0 -- their best opening in over 40 years -- on Saturday, claiming the Battle of the States tournament title in the process, 62-22 over Murphy, N.C., in Hiawassee.
11:17PM ( 3 years ago )
Girls basketball: Chestatee stumbles to losses in tournament play
The Chestatee girls basketball team dropped a 50-47 decision to Allatoona on Saturday at the Allatoona Christmas Tournament in Acworth.
8:19PM ( 3 years ago )
High School Sports
Atlanta selected to host Super Bowl thanks in large part to stadium investment
The NFL awarded Super Bowls to Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles, three cities that made significant financial investments in new stadiums or recently upgraded an existing one.
By The Associated Press
4:21PM ( 1 hour ago )
Unicoi offering aerial adventure park beginning Thursday
Just in time for summer, Unicoi State Park and Lodge has rolled out its new aerial adventure park.
3:03PM ( 2 hours ago )
Self-control urged, as ballot selfies are banned in Georgia
​State election officials are taking to social media, warning Georgia voters to resist the urge to snap photos, or ``selfies,'' inside voting booths.
1:24PM ( 4 hours ago )
NGMC Braselton President gives first year recap
Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton President Anthony Williamson said he would speak loudly in order to compete with the noise of construction crews outside the windows behind him. That sort of challenge expresses in a nutshell the story of the new hospital’s burgeoning inaugural year.
11:15AM ( 6 hours ago )
GSP SWAT detains Banks County shooting suspect after overnight standoff
An Athens man is behind bars in Banks County after allegedly shooting two people then leading a state trooper on a chase that led to a 4.5-hour armed standoff in Madison County.
9:46AM ( 8 hours ago )