Saying that coaching at the high school level had “lost its allure,” Ronnie Gray has resigned as head baseball coach at Suwannee High.

“I don’t think I ever saw myself being a career high school baseball coach,” he said Tuesday.

But that’s only one reason for his decision. The real issue is family. “The price you have to pay to be successful here has gotten to the point where I don’t think it is worth it anymore in regards to the sacrifice my family was going to have to make,” he said.

“Wanting to spend more time with your family is that old cliché” coaches use at times like this, he admitted. But it’s the truth, at least in his case. Gray and his wife, Stephanie, have two children, Kyler, eight, and Hayley, four. During the season, from January to May, he has little time to spend with them.

“A lot of people are going to be shocked,” he said. “Why would you resign from a team that was the third or fourth ranked team in the state at one point last year?”

But Gray, 35, says he just wants a break from coaching. “I’ve been doing this for 16 years and I think it’s time to go to the house,” he said.

Gray has held his post for nine years, during which he compiled a record of 187-73, including seven consecutive 20-plus win seasons. The Bulldogs were District 3-3A champions in 2000 and district runners-up in 2001, 2003 and 2005. Suwannee made it to the regional finals in 2001. The Dogs finished the 2006 season with a 21-5 record, ranked tenth in the state.

“He’s one of the best we’ve had,” said

former assistant Tom Abercrombie, now Suwannee Middle School Dean of Students. “Ronnie Gray developed a tremendous reputation for our program around the state.”

Gray will continue to teach driver’s ed at Suwannee High and says he may coach there again at some point. He has no plans to move up to the college or professional level.

“I’d be going right back to the same situation we’re just getting out of,” he said, referring to the drain on time with his family.

Gray has definite ideas on who should succeed him. “There should be a smooth transition to [assistant coach] Vernon Wiggins taking over the program,” he said. “If not, I’m going to be disappointed.”

Suwannee High athletic director Randy Etheridge wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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