01/18/08 — A Whitfield still in charge at Spring Creek

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A Whitfield still in charge at Spring Creek

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on January 18, 2008 3:56 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- From the time Spring Creek first opened its doors as a middle school in 1979 and during its transition to a high school, a Whitfield has always been in charge of the athletics department.

That won't change, but the face will.

After serving as athletics director for nearly three decades and the head varsity football coach for seven seasons, Roy Whitfield retired last month. He turned the duties over to nephew Heath Whitfield, who took over the varsity baseball program last spring.

"I had my years in ... it was just one of those things," said Whitfield. "There was nothing concrete. You just sort of know when it's time. It's definitely not a decision that occurred over night."

Heath spent 10 years as the middle school athletics director. But don't think it's been an easy transition.

"There's a lot of nights where it seems like we've had something about every night, either a wrestling match or basketball game," said Heath. "It just takes getting used to having stuff at night and not being able to go home, and be with my little boy and stuff like that."

While retirement has brought on plenty of free time for Roy, perhaps the fact that he's no longer an AD or head football coach won't ultimately sink in until next fall when the Gators return to the gridiron.

"I love football practice and Friday nights," said Roy. "That probably won't hit me until next fall. It's like if you played as an athlete and you go back on your first Friday night, I'll probably have those same emotions this fall."

Finding a coach to replace his uncle is undoubtedly Heath's top priority as athletics director. While there are no current teaching openings, he hopes to name a successor by the Easter holidays.

If the right candidate comes along, Heath said "something would have to be worked out."

The Gators finished 35-60 and made six trips to the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs during Roy's tenure as head coach. His best team finished 6-6 two years ago and lost an opening-round, playoff shootout at perennial power Louisburg.

"There's definitely some big shoes to fill," Heath said. "Roy is very, very well thought of. He's very well respected and there will be a little pressure with hiring that football coach too. We want to find the right person, we'll see who we've got and who's interested in it and go from there."