COVINGTON, Ga. — Coming off his 14th year at the helm of the Eastside girls soccer team, Joel Singleton announced that he is stepping down.
Singleton will transition to the Walton County School System (WCSS) to teach chorus at Monroe Area High School. Right now, Singleton has no desire to coach, but is not completely shutting the door on the possibility to return.
This was a decision that Singleton didn’t take lightly.
“It’s just an opportunity that I felt like you can’t really control God’s timing and opportunities,” Singleton said. “It was hard to say, ‘No.’ It was a hard decision but, at the end of the day, I felt like this was what's best for me and mine.”
Last Friday morning, Singleton gathered the Lady Eagles together to inform them of his decision. Singleton “tossed and turned” the night prior gearing up for the emotional meeting.
“It was very quiet. Not much was said,” Singleton said. “Then, as the day played out, individuals came by to see me and so forth. I think [the players] handled it well. A lot of girls came by and said, ‘Thank you.’”
Singleton cited a plethora of factors that he weighed into his final decision. But the biggest reason for his move was more time with his family.
Singleton has two small children in the WCSS and his wife has been a teacher there for 21 years. Now, instead of being on two separate academic calendars, Singleton can share his time off each year with his loved ones.
“I’m excited to have more time with the family,” Singleton said. “I looked at the calendar for next year and our fall break and [WCSS] fall break were two different times. Whether we were to go out of town or plan something wasn’t the biggest issue. The biggest issue is we can’t be together as much.”
In his 14 years, Singleton led the Lady Eagles to unprecedented heights for the program.
Eastside made the playoffs eight of his 14 seasons along with finishing as region runners up five years. The Lady Eagles also had three Sweet Sixteen appearances and, in 2019, they advanced to the Elite Eight.
Currently, Eastside is on a five-year streak of playoff appearances — the 2020 COVID-19 shortened season notwithstanding — and, since 2018, each senior class has graduated with at least one playoff victory under their belt.
In total, Singleton finishes his tenure as head coach with a 130-94-11 overall record along with a 60-44 mark in region play.
Singleton is proud of the success the Lady Eagles have brought to the girls soccer program.
“Just having that mindset of success and trying to build that,” Singleton said. “For me, I’m most proud of building a tradition that people can’t just roll into Covington or have us come in from Covington and say, ‘Oh, we’re going to mercy rule this team.’”
Not only has Singleton led the girls soccer program to much success, but he has also led the chorus program at Eastside. There’s a wall dedicated to dozens of Choral Large Group Performance (LGP) plaques and trophies.
Like his time as soccer coach, Singleton is happy to reflect on what the Eagles’ chorus program has accomplished.
“People know when they see or hear the name Eastside, they know quality,” Singleton said. “And the thing I tell the kids about the LGP plaques is, I’ll be gone one day and that day is now. But they’ll be able to come back, whether it was the old building or this building, and they can come in this room and look at the wall and say, ‘Hey, this was my group.’”
Singleton will be taking over a five-year old Monroe Area High School chorus program that has grown from 12 students to 75 over its lifetime.
Though Singleton said he is “excited” for his next chapter, he is not planning on completely going away from his current players and students.
“I assured [the players] that I’ll still be around and, next year, I’ll still be coming around to watch and see,” Singleton said. “When all the kids who sign to college, I wanted to be invited if I can be here, because it still matters. I tell my players and students, ‘I want to have as much of a relationship with you after high school as I do when you’re singing and playing for me.’ Whoever follows me, I’m going to be their biggest cheerleader for soccer and for the chorus to keep it going.”