Softball coach wins championship, loses job
Three days after winning his second state 5A softball championship in four years, Hartselle High School Lady Tigers softball coach Garry Pressley found himself out of a job.
Pressley, 45, with a 270-92 record in his seven seasons as the Lady Tiger's head coach, said he was asked to resign by HHS Principal Jerry Reeves.
Pressley said he was given no specific reason for the action, but would comply with Reeves' request. He will continue to teach at Hartselle High School.
'"It was an accumulation of things from the past was all I was told," Pressley said.
He speculated that it stemmed from his intense coaching style.
"Somebody that works like I do and works hard, and pushes them hard, you're going to have people that don't like it," Pressley said. "All the girls will tell you I've been on their case before. But if you ask them if I care about them, they'll tell you I do."
Reeves said he would not comment on the reasons for Pressley's resignation. Superintendent Dr. Lee Hartsell also declined to comment.
The action drew mixed reaction from the community, including a group of players who met with Hartsell in protest over the termination.
"He's a great coach," team member Rachael Carden said. "He's strict and tough, but it makes us better ballplayers."
"In the past five years, he's gone to the state championship games," team member Jessica Lyle said. "It's an accomplishment even to get to go to state."
Players of the parents also spoke in support of Pressley.
"He's not only a good coach, he encourages the girls to get good grades and become involved in other projects such as the National Youth Leadership program," parent Patty Sanderson said. "I know he's made mistakes, but we're all human. You're taking a great coach away from girls that need scholarships and love softball."
Pressley's coaching record was impressive. His team advanced to the state tournament every year during his term as coach, finishing no worse than fourth. The Lady Tigers finished either first or second each of the last five years.
Fourteen of Pressley's former players have signed scholarships to play college softball.
His tenure had not been without controversy, however.
Several players and parents, who declined to be identified, said Pressley's coaching style was too aggressive, citing an incident this year where several players quit the team in the middle of the season.