DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Twenty years ago, David Dowse, then the girls basketball coach at Grayson, said he admired the teams from the North Georgia mountains while coaching against several teams during a summer camp.
“Someday, I’m going to coach in that area because I like those kinds of players, and I think I can do some good things up there,” he said he told an assistant during a summer camp back in the 2000s. “I just admired the type of players a lot of the teams up here had.”
Fast-forward to March 2022, two decades later, and the same Dowse was raising a championship trophy above his head after leading the Lumpkin County girls to their first-ever state title in Macon.
It’s not often you can call your shot and make it happen. But the long-time coach did just that in what he called “the highlight of my career.”
Dowse officially announced his retirement on Tuesday, saying he was stepping down as coach of the Lady Indians after six seasons. He coached at Grayson for four years, moving to McIntosh in Fayette County for 10 seasons, and then closed out his career in Dahlonega with the Lady Indians.
“I probably made the decision about a month and a half ago,” Dowse said during a Tuesday interview. “I still love the coaching, the practicing, the games. But the fire in the classroom has not been there as much lately, and I I think it’s just time to look for something new to do.”
Dowse took over a program in 2017 that had never advanced out of the first round, had just one playoff appearance (1991) in its history, and was just 31-106 (.226 winning percentage) in the six seasons before his arrival. Lumpkin County went 121-45 (.728%) during his six seasons at the helm.
The Lady Indians captured the Class 3A crown with a thrilling win over Greater Atlanta Christian in the 2022 finals and just completed the 2022-23 season as 3A state runners-up after a loss to Hebron Christian in the championship game last week.
Lumpkin County also won its first region championship in 2021 and repeated in 2022 as well. The Lady Indians finished second in Region 7-3A in 2023.
“This has been a great six years, and it has been very rewarding to see the progression of the girls over the years,” Dowse said. “The past three seasons have been truly special with a special group of girls. They accomplished things no one here ever had before.
“Winning the title (in 2022) was just so special and a lot of fun. What I’m going to remember the most is just the relationships built by the coaches and the players and how much the girls loved practicing and playing together as a group. That first Final 4 team (in 2021) was a super special run as well because it was the first time the program had gotten that far.”
Dowse said he is settled in the North Georgia mountains and doesn’t plan to go anywhere for the foreseeable future. But he did not rule out possibly coaching again in the future.
“Never say never to anything, but right now, I’m just trying to figure out what I’m going to be doing in about three months when I’m done teaching,” he said.”I don’t have any plans to coach right now, but if something came up in the future, I would just have to see where I was at that moment.
“The toughest thing will be our end-of-year banquet in a couple of weeks. That will be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do to say goodbye to this group of girls. I probably won’t make it through without breaking down. They mean a lot to me.”
Here is the full statement Dowse released to the media on Tuesday:
Wanted to share with everyone that I have resigned my teaching and coaching position at Lumpkin County HS.
I shared the news with my team (Monday).
52 consecutive years in the classroom as a student and educator. I'm just out of juice to make it to 53.
I don't know where my path will lead...maybe coaching, perhaps something else. I just know that my classroom will no longer be defined by four walls and a chalk board (or smart board or whatever).
It's tough because I love our sport and the kids.
Anyway...wanted to share.
And most important, after a week in the hospital, my wife is home and improving daily.