This story was updated Monday, April 25, 2022, at 8:27 p.m. with more information.
One of the Chattanooga area's most successful high school coaches — regardless of sport — has announced her plan to retire. GPS softball coach Susan Crownover will step down at the end of the current season, her 29th with the program.
"I've always been told by other coaches that you'll know when you're ready, and I think that's true because I'm at peace with the decision" Crownover said Monday afternoon. "It's just time for somebody younger and fresher to take over.
"I wouldn't have chosen any other profession. I knew at a young age this is what I wanted to do and I've been blessed with a great career and relationships. It's a little bittersweet because you wonder how much you'll miss it. But what I'll get to do when I retire is be a grandma, so that makes it easier."
Crownover, who has taught at GPS for 31 years, has guided the softball team to the state tournament 23 times, winning eight state championships and finishing runners-up 12 times, including each of the last six seasons. With an overall record of 668-237, including 63-30 in the state tournament, Crownover has had 21 20-win seasons and never had a losing record in her tenure.
Crownover also coached the Bruisers basketball team for nine seasons, claiming two state titles and compiling a 171-69 overall record that included five 20-plus win seasons.
Equally impressive are the 38 former players who have continued their career at the collegiate level.
"What she has accomplished in female athletics, winning state championships in both softball and basketball, is amazing and will be hard to match," said Baylor coach Kelli Smith, whose team has battled the rival Bruisers in the state championship game 10 of the past 11 years. Either Baylor or GPS has played for the state title 18 straight seasons.
"As a competitor, the Baylor/GPS rivalry won't be the same without her. Even though we're competitors, she's someone that I look up to and admire and have the utmost respect for because of the way she has always ran her program the right way. There's not a better person in coaching."
"I had thought about stepping down a couple of years ago but then Covid hit and then last year we had the cancer scare," Crownover said. "I'm very grateful to get to end my coaching career on the field. It makes this season even more special."
A 2016 Greater Chattanooga Hall of Fame inductee, she has been named Times Free Press softball Coach of the Year three times and in 2007 was named Tennessee's softball coach of the year. In 2012 the TSSAA named her the overall Female Coach of the Year.
The school has selected London Cornelius as its new softball coach. She will assist with the middle school team in the fall and begin guiding the varsity program next spring.
Cornelius played collegiately at Chattanooga State for one year before finishing her career at North Carolina Central University. She was a two-time team captain at NCCU and started all 93 games during her final two seasons.
She later served as an assistant at NCCU from 2014-17, followed by a stint as athletic director at Wake Forest Charter Academy in North Carolina from 2018-21.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.