Newly retired Hall of Famer Ernie Chatman isn’t the only coach to create a vacancy Nature Coast has to fill.
On Monday, baseball coach Mike Ellison turned in his letter of resignation to athletic director Kristin Peeples.
Also, Peeples said, the school is in the process of replacing Emily Gore as volleyball head coach.
“It’s a difficult position to be in considering there are absolutely no teaching positions,” Peeples said. “It’s not like we can just go out and hire a coach that’s fully suited for the position. We have to go through the whole criteria.
“We will try to find a quality coach for the program and we’ll keep searching until we find the best fit for the program.”
In the case of Gore, it’s not a true departure. Over the past four school years she has pulled double duty as volleyball and girls basketball mentor.
“I needed a little bit of a break,” Gore said. “It was starting to wear on me a little bit. When you’re tired by the third week of August; that makes for a long year. I thought it was time to give up one.
“I’ll miss it all. It’s really odd because I’ll still be there. I’ll definitely miss the girls. It’s a fantastic group of girls. What makes coaching volleyball so enjoyable for me is the kids I get to coach.”
Though Gore arrived in Hernando County as the volleyball coach at Central in 2009, she played basketball in college and admits that’s her favorite sport.
Still, her initial success came in volleyball, first when she guided the Lady Bears to a 13-9 mark and regional berth before shifting to Nature Coast in 2010.
The Lady Sharks earned two straight district titles and trips to the Elite Eight during her first two seasons at the helm, going 25-5 and 25-3 respectively.
But the 2011 campaign was the last for a senior-laden core, led by Tulane signee and two-time Hernando Today Player of the Year Courtney Liddle.
Over the next two seasons, the Lady Sharks dipped to 4-22 then 6-19 this past fall, leaving Gore’s record with the team at 60-49 overall.
“The last two years weren’t what we wanted them to be, but we had a different set of girls,” Gore said. “Ten wins in two seasons is definitely tough, but as a coach you go through ups and downs. That’s part of the life of a high school coach.”
Meanwhile, the basketball squad has gone 60-38 with one district title and two trips to regionals through her first four seasons as coach.
This past season the Lady Sharks went 20-5 and advanced to the Sweet 16. The team returns all five starters and has a realistic chance to compete for a regional title in 2014-15.
Gore, who was Coach of the Year in volleyball in 2011, earned the same honor in basketball this last season as well as 2011-12.
“We’ve got so much returning for basketball and we had such an outstanding season with so much returning,” Gore said. “There’s a lot of potential to have another great season. Some of those things factored in.
“I’d like to start a school year where I’m not full-time coaching. I’d go back to coaching volleyball before I’d even go back as a teacher. It’ll be nice to start a school year and not have that on top of me and focus on the teaching aspect a little bit.”
Additionally because of her volleyball commitments and the seasonal overlap, Gore conceded she felt the basketball team was “short-changed a little bit. I want to see what happens if we run a team year-round.”
Peeples said a replacement appears to be lined up, but she is awaiting clearance from the school district to make a hire.
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Ellison resigning came as more of a surprise, Peeples said, than Chatman or Gore.
Having previously coached at Hernando, Hernando Christian Academy and Central, Ellison was brought in last summer with the hope of bringing stability to a program in constant flux.
Since 2008, the Sharks have had a different coach from the previous season in six out of seven years. They were 11-13 this spring and haven’t had a winning record since 2009.
In his letter to Peeples, Ellison indicated he didn’t feel he was the right fit for the team.
“Do we have a direction as of yet? No. This is all new,” Peeples said. “I didn’t know it was coming.”
Ellison, who is a year and a half away from retirement as a teacher, would only say he stepped down for personal reasons, though he was satisfied with the results this year.
“I thought we would have done better. But I think we did pretty good considering it was a first-year coach, a whole new system put in,” Ellison said. “We beat some pretty good teams.”
By the numbers: NCT volleyball under Emily Gore
# Denotes district championship
* Denotes regional final appearance
By the numbers: Mike Ellison
Year School Record
1990 Hernando 9-18
2004 HCA 11-11*
2005 HCA 13-12*^
2008 Central 7-16
2009 Central 12-13*
2010 Central 6-20
2013 Nature Coast 11-13
* Denotes regional berth
^ Denotes district championship