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Mathews baseball coach resigns
Dewitt's coaching career over
By MARTY O'BRIEN | firstname.lastname@example.org
Al Dewitt used to coach the children of his former classmates at Mathews High. These days, he coaches their grandchildren.
"That's what happens when you stay in the same place for a long time," joked Dewitt, who attended elementary school in Mathews and played high school sports for the Blue Devils.
Dewitt will stay at Mathews a little longer, just not as a coach. He resigned recently as baseball coach, ending a stint of 28 years coaching at Mathews.
He said he will continue as athletics director, a position he's held for 18 school years. Dewitt has also coached the varsity baseball team 18 seasons, winning 215 games, five Tidewater District titles, a Region A title and the 2004 Group A state championship.
"I had planned to get out after last season," said Dewitt, who guided the Blue Devils to the 2006 district title and their second state tournament appearance in three seasons. "A third of the (2004) state championship team was graduating last year, so I thought it would be the right time to get out.
"Then Ryan Collins (a freshman on the state title team) asked me if I would stay on through his senior year, so I did."
The Blue Devils struggled to a third-place finish in the district this season and were eliminated in the district tournament semifinals. Dewitt ends his coaching career having left his fingerprints on many of the school's most significant athletic milestones of the past three decades.
In 1981, he coached the first girls tennis team. The program has since blossomed and will play today in the Group A state semifinals for the fifth consecutive season.
His Mathews football teams won 51 games in eight seasons (1979-86). In 1986, he became the first coach to guide the school to a Region A football title and Group A state semifinal appearance.
He started the junior varsity baseball program in 1986 and coached the team its first five seasons. During that period he spent three seasons on Jimmye Laycock's football staff at William and Mary, assisting with the Tribe defense.
Dewitt has held the twin positions of athletics director and varsity baseball coach for the past 18 seasons. He might best be remembered for guiding the Blue Devils to the '04 state baseball title, but he says the satisfaction of coaching for his hometown high school goes far beyond that.
"The thing I've enjoyed the most is the close relationship I've had with so many players," he said. "To see them grow up and become good husbands, good fathers and good people means the most to me.
"I've developed friendships with a lot of them, and go hunting and fishing with some."
Dewitt said he does not expect Mathews to select his replacement as baseball coach before the fall.
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