Griffin leaving Porters Chapel

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

[4/10/04]Porters Chapel Academy basketball and softball coach Kevin Griffin is leaving to coach at Central Hinds Academy in Raymond, ending his two-year tenure with the school.

He will remain through the end of the school year and will continue his offseason workouts with the players before making the changeover.

“He’s a really good coach, and he means a lot to me and the team,” said Amy Beaugh, who plays both basketball and softball for the Lady Eagles. “We’re going to miss him.”

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Porters Chapel is trying to become accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. PCA headmaster Gwen Reiber said the school was not offering to bring Griffin, who does not have a teaching degree, back into the classroom. He was offered a stipend to remain only as a coach, much like PCA baseball coach Randy Wright, but declined.

“There’s no way I’d be able to make it on just a coaching supplement, not with a family and a baby on the way,” said Griffin, who had traveled an hour each way between his home in Byram and Vicksburg. “It’s a tough decision, but I turned in my resignation.”

Assistant coach Mike Grzanich, who came to Porters Chapel with Griffin, will take over the coaching duties. He will be assisted by Chris Etheridge, who was hired as a Bible studies teacher.

“He will be running a lot of the same stuff, and he coaches just as well as Coach Griffin did,” said Allen Cassell, who will be a senior on the boys basketball team next year. “But it’s not going to be the same with Griffin gone. (Grzanich) is going to have new things that he wants done.”

Griffin will be the fast-pitch softball and girls basketball coach at Central Hinds beginning in the fall. He also will teach elementary physical education as well as run a tutorial internet program, Central Hinds headmaster Phil Hannan said.

“We’re excited about Kevin coming here,” Hannan said. “He’s had experience, and we’ve competed against Porters Chapel while he’s been there. His teams play hard and seem well-coached.”

Central Hinds is a 15-minute drive from Griffin’s home.

The athletic program is also in Class AA, compared to Porters Chapel which is a Class A school. Griffin said he’s looking forward to the change as the Lady Cougars have very competitive programs in both softball and basketball.

“That’s a step up as far as the size of the school,” Griffin said. “It’s a good situation for me as far as my career goes and also for my family situation, getting me closer to home.”

Griffin said he knew when Reiber hired him that this day would come eventually, and he’s not bitter at all.

“It was nothing that was a surprise to me because she was very honest from the get-go,” he said. “I totally support her decision on the academic part of it. I can fully understand that she’s just doing what she’s got to do for Porters Chapel.”

Reiber said she wishes Griffin could stay, and it’s unfortunate that he’s leaving.

“He was an enthusiastic and motivational coach,” she said. “He took a program that was floundering and built a solid foundation in basketball and fast-pitch softball. It’s difficult because we like him.”

Porters Chapel’s fast-pitch softball team is on the rise after finishing 25-9 and reaching the state tournament this season. The boys basketball team reached the South State Tournament for the first time since 1999.

One year removed from a 34-8 season, the girls basketball team lost four senior starters but surprised many by notching 19 wins.

“I do feel like the programs are in better shape than they were when I got there, with the exception of girls basketball because they’ve always been good.” Griffin said. “That’s going to be the biggest thing I’m going to miss is the players and the relationships I had with them and the parents there.

“They were all great.”