After just a year on the job, Shane Roberson has stepped aside as baseball coach at Hixson High School.
"He got one of those opportunities of a lifetime," Hixson athletic director Brian Bray said. "You can't fault a man for wanting to better his family's situation, and chances like this probably only come around once in your life."
State Farm offered Roberson the opportunity to enter the insurance field and open his own agency. His last day of school was Friday, and he will begin classes in his new field almost immediately.
"I don't want anybody to think I'm just walking away from these kids," Roberson said. "I felt we did a lot of good things and that the team got better from the beginning of the season to the end. This is just too good an opportunity to pass up."
Said Bray: "He and the team made progress. I was pleased. He had more players out and he had a junior varsity program for the first time in a couple of years. Wins and losses wasn't the important issue. We were competitive in 90-95 percent of our games."
To replace Roberson, the school has elevated former Wildcat Colton Green, who was brought in this year to teach math and serve as an assistant to Roberson.
"He's a Hixson guy -- played on my last team (2008) as a shortstop and pitcher," Bray said. "He worked with the kids all summer, and he already has built relationships."
Green said he was more excited than nervous. Roberson re-established the Wildcats baseball support group, with which Green is very familiar, and he'll also have Bray to help with administrative chores.
"I had taken the assistant's job, so I was already excited. Getting bumped up was a surprise. I didn't expect it to happen," he said. "I think Shane made a lot of good steps in the direction we needed to be going, and the team improved a lot last year. I hope to build on that and get this program back to where we're competing for district championships every year. I want it to take off like the football program has."
Andy Duncan, another former Wildcat, will stay with the program. He has been helping out the last couple of years and will continue as a volunteer assistant, according to Bray, who added that Duncan is working toward his degree as an education major.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.