The miles more than the hours finally caught up with East Ridge football coach Mike Martin, who turned in his resignation Monday.
"Honestly, my energy level just isn't there, and I guess the miles had something to do with," he said.
Martin, who lives in Niota, has driven 108 round-trip miles each day since being hired four years ago. He had been coaching at Meigs County.
"The original idea when I first took the job was to eventually move down here, but I had no way of knowing what would happen to the economy or that I'd be unable to sell my house," he said.
Martin posted a 22-21 record at East Ridge. His best season came in 2009 when the Pioneers went 7-4. His Meigs County teams were 29-15 and made the playoffs all four years.
"I just don't have the energy. It isn't that I'm burned out but worn out," he said. "I feel like I'm letting [East Ridge principal] Mr. [Zac] Brown and the players down, but I feel like I'd be letting them down more by staying on.
"I'm not mad or frustrated. I'm going to take a step back a little and get the juices back. I think I could really do more right now as an assistant rather than as a head coach."
Martin has two daughters, ages 10 and 5, and said he was missing them growing up.
"I'd get up at 4:45 and leave before they were up, and then, especially during football season, I got home after they had gone to bed," he said. "But my time at East Ridge has been great. It was a wonderful experience and I'm thankful to the administrations I've worked for and for the guidance I have gotten from [athletic director] Catherine Neely. The next person who comes here will be treated wonderfully."
Brown hopes to find a successor before the TSSAA's "no contact" period for coaches and athletes the last week of June and the first week of July.
"In my short time with Coach Martin, he has worked tirelessly," the principal said. "It is important, though, that he take care of himself. The East Ridge community is going to miss him."
The priorities he has used to hire coaches in the past remain in place.
"I want the new coach to be successful and the program to be successful, but as an administrator I have to take care of the classroom," Brown said. "Hopefully they'll come together. I'll look for the best teacher first and follow the protocols, and hopefully we'll find the best [replacement] in the next couple of weeks."
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...