Tuesday May 31st, 2016 4:10AM

Dix reverses course on coaching change, returns 'home' to East Hall

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
RABBITTOWN -- Joe Dix called it the toughest decision he ever had to make last week when he opted to leave East Hall basketball for South Gwinnett.

Turns out it was too tough.

After agonizing over his move away from Valhalla, Dix called East Hall principal Jeff Cooper on Friday and asked if he could come back to the Vikings.

Cooper welcomed Dix back with open arms, announcing the state title-winning coach had returned to East Hall on Wednesday.

"We didn't want to lose him from the beginning, and it's a no-brainer on our part to keep him here," said Cooper. "He's a huge part of our community."

It was that bond with East Hall that proved too much to keep Dix away.

"I had been really uncomfortable ever since I made the decision," said Dix, who left the Vikings for the Comets on May 21. "I really missed the guys on the team. It was awful really. I wasn't sleeping... It was just more than I could imagine."

Dix led a handful of practices with South Gwinnett last week -- it was the only time he felt at ease.

"We had about three practices, and the kids were great and had already bought in," Dix said. "But that was my only peace, was when I was on the floor at practice. When I told the kids I was going back (to East Hall) I told them it wasn't anything about them. They were great kids, and there's a great administration down there. Someone's going to reap the benefits there.

"I just couldn't leave home."

Valhalla became home for Dix straight out of college. A North Georgia College and State University graduate, Dix joined the Vikings program for the 1996-97 season, eventually taking over as head coach from Seth Vining in 2004-05 and winning a state title in his first season in charge.

During eight seasons at the helm, Dix has led East Hall to a 194-51 record that also included three state semifinal appearances and five Lanierland Tournament championships.

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

"This is my home," Dix said. "My players were glad to have me back. I'm glad to be back."
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