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THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2007
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Watkins steps down as Austin baseball coach
Austin grad, basketball assistant Jake Miles will serve as interim coach

By Brooke Milam
bmilam@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

Austin High head baseball coach Alan Watkins turned in his coaching resignation Wednesday but said his schedule will be as busy as always.

It was an amicable parting with the Black Bears' baseball program after 10 seasons as head coach, but Watkins said that building a house and keeping up with family responsibilities will his top priority list. Also, he will continue work toward his master's degree, a process he began before becoming a head coach.

"I think it was what I needed to do," Watkins said. "The more I weighed what I have on me, it was best that I do this now. With the leadership that we have at Austin, I knew everything would carry on just fine."

Watkins, 35, a former player for Austin High, resigned from coaching at his alma mater, but will continue teaching special education and driver education.

His best season as head coach came in 2001, when the Black Bears finished 28-12, making it to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

Last year Austin's baseball team finished 10-28, but closed out the season with a 4-3 win over Lee-Huntsville.

"I think the program is in better shape right now than it has been in a long time," Austin principal Don Snow said. "We're improving our facilities. We have great support from our baseball boosters and a good working relationship with the City Board (of Education). I look for this team to really do some good things in the next couple of years, and it's because of the foundation that Alan has laid."

Snow said Jake Miles, an assistant boys basketball coach, will serve as interim head baseball coach. Snow added that the administration will conduct a coaching search after the season has concluded.

"I think that's best for the continuity of the team," Snow said. "We didn't have time right now to do a legit search, so we will do that after this season."

Both Snow and Watkins expressed their confidence in Miles, who is an Austin graduate and was The Daily's 4A-6A baseball player of the year in 1996. His father, retired Austin coach Billy Miles, was The Daily's 4A-6A baseball coach of the year in 1986 and held the reigns when Watkins served as a volunteer assistant baseball coach for two years.

"I'm not looking right now to go anywhere else or anything like that," Watkins said. "I'll still be here teaching, and I want to focus on continuing my education right now.

"There are a lot of ways, both academic and non-academic, that you can help young people, and that's what a lot of coaching is about.

"I'm also not ruling out coaching in the future."

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