After taking the Eagles to the second round of the Class AAA baseball playoffs the past three years, Eastside head coach Michael Poor is stepping aside.
Poor, who took over five years ago after three years as an assistant under Dennis Jones, said it's time to concentrate on more important things, namely his family and his young son who has battled health problems since birth.
"When I took the job, my son was about six months old, but he was born with a cleft palate, cleft lip and has bilateral hearing loss and he has just dealt with a lot of issues," Poor said. "I guess it hit me on his fourth birthday last year. I looked at him and realized, he was four, and I haven't really seen him grow up."
The Eagles were knocked out of the state playoffs Wednesday at Thomson. Poor said he told Eastside's administration about his plans before the season started but didn't break the news to his team until after the Eagles' 11-0 loss in Game 2 and were eliminated.
"I didn't tell the kids until after the game out of respect for the game," Poor said. "I didn't need them to be thinking about it. I didn't need people talking about that. I needed the team focused on playing baseball. It's not about me. It was always about the kids."
Poor battled speculation he may not return seemingly every year since his appointment in 2007. But in five years, he guided Eastside's program back to respectability after several lean years. Thanks in large part to a large core of players with whom he was able to work the past four years in particular; the Eagles enjoyed much success the past three years. Along with Poor's exit, eight seniors graduate this year, signaling a new era in Eastside baseball beginning in 2012.
"There have been rumors four five years," Poor said. "I was asked the year (former Newton coach Billy) Roper and (former Alcovy coach Joe) Mobley resigned if I was also heading out. There were rumors I was going then and there have been rumors every year. Whoever had 2011 in the betting pool won a lot of money."
No decision has been made on who Poor's successor will be, but the outgoing coach said he'd like to see longtime assistant Jason Stokes get a shot.
Poor and Stokes have switched roles each of the past two softball seasons after Stokes took over as head coach from Heather Wood in 2009. Poor is Stokes' softball assistant and pitching coach and he still plans to stay involved with the softball team.
Poor said he'll remain at Eastside where he's the assistant math department chair at and teaches advanced placement calculus. He lives with his wife and son in Oconee County but said he recently put his house on the market and plans to move to Newton County.
"I just can't, not be with my family anymore," Poor said. "I tell my players, family comes first. I preach it to them, and when they have a family something they have to go to, that's the first priority and it's time for me to follow my own advice."