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Grace Academy boys basketball coach Jon Mattheiss directs players during their prep basketball game at Grace Academy on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Jon Mattheiss, who spent more than three decades building and guiding the Grace Academy boys' basketball program, stepped down from that job on Monday. When Mattheiss took over in 1989 the program was not even a TSSAA member. Two years later the Golden Eagles joined the TSSAA and by the time of his resignation Mattheiss had led the program to more than 450 wins and five state tournament appearances.

"I've invested so much of my life into basketball at Grace that the decision felt strange, but the timing feels right," said Mattheiss, whose teams finished Class A state runners-up three times.

Darris Waters, who has worked as a Golden Eagles assistant for 12 years, will take over the head coaching duties. Waters also guided the team last season when Mattheiss took time off due to health issues.

"I know Darris cares as much about the program as I do so it's a relief to have someone with his character and ability taking over," said Mattheiss, who also coached boys' soccer during his tenure at Grace. "I'm 63 years old now and with some of my health concerns I just didn't feel like I had the energy to devote to the kids like I should.

"I would be glad to continue helping Coach Waters in any way but it's time for him to run things now."

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Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Feb 26, 2011 - Grace Academy boys' basketball coach Jon Mattheiss (cq) talks to his team Saturday during the Grace Academy basketball game against Signal Mountain High School at Grace Academy.

Grace athletic director Bob Ateca said he feels fortunate that the program will have a smooth coaching transition.

"Jon is a staple at our school," Ateca said. "He is Grace Academy basketball and our school has been very fortunate to have someone like him leading our young people for so long.

"Coach Waters has proven himself to be a great man of character who knows the game well and having worked under Jon for so many years, I'm sure he learned a lot about the game as well."

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.

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