CONYERS -- He dogpiled, he hugged, he cried.
The emotions Heritage head baseball coach Shane Ramsey felt immediately following their state championship victory over Pope, his first title as a coach and the first title in the program’s history, one emotion in particular grew larger.
While the joy of winning and the excitement for his players trumped them all, Ramsey also began to feel a different emotion, knowing it would be his last time ever coaching the Patriots.
At the time, no one knew outside of his family. A feeling that had slowly crept into his mind in the weeks leading up to the Patriots’ historic title run, Ramsey later made it known to his returning cast of players that he was indeed stepping down as head coach, effective immediately.
The decision to part ways was a difficult one for the verteran head coach. Having revitalized his coaching career at Heritage, a program in which he posted a 91-43 record in just four seasons, the likes of four soon-to-be returning seniors made it an even tougher decision to leave.
“It was hard to walk away, but I knew it was time,” Ramsey said. “It wasn’t easy because there is some good talent coming back, specifically four of them.”
Ramsey’s departure from Dalton roughly five years ago wasn’t one he originally saw ending badly. With a chance to reinvigorate himself as a head coach at Heritage, Rasmey, along with his sons Caleb and Colt and his wife Natalie made the move to Conyers, not knowing that just four years later, he would depart as a beloved coach donning a state championship ring, as well as a father to another son, Cross.
“When we came to Heritage four years ago, it was one of those things where I wasn’t sure how long I would be there,” Ramsey said. “(Heritage) changed my life. I loved it. The kids were incredible and we had some really good success. I had some really good players that bought into my system. It was just one of things things where I never looked at it as being long term.”
With his wife Natalie looking to advance in her career as an educator, it wasn’t long before Ramsey and his family found his new place they could call home. Next spring, Ramsey will sport a different shade or red and blue as an assistant at Effingham County.
With a great interest in moving further south, compiled with his wife interested in taking the next step, accepting an assistant position, for now, was a sacrifice he was more than willing to make.
“My wife has let me live my dream. Now I want to let her live her dream,” Ramsey said. “Will I be a head coach again? Yes. I have a great desire to do that. But where I’m at right now, I’m focused more on my family. WIth that and wanting a new challenge, I was comfortable with leaving.”
Winning multiple Region 3-AAAAAA titles while at Heritage, as well as dethroning back-to-back state champion Pope easily tops Ramsey’s list of achievements as a coach.
Having left a lasting mark in that respect, it isn’t the results that he will miss the most about his time at Heritage, but rather the players, who he helped mold into both great players and great men.
“The types of players and the types of student athletes that are at Heritage is better than any place that I’ll go to,” Ramsey said. “That’s what I’ll miss. What I’ve always said that I’ll miss the most is the daily grind. It’s walking in the locker room and having our talks. It’s seeing teenage boys becoming men and playing a part in that.”
I miss them already. That’s why I do what I do. The wins are great, don’t get me wrong. And winning state was great. But the impact my players had on me on a daily basis, that’s why it’s worth every bit of it. I’ll forever be indebted to those kids because they changed my life.”
Ramsey also gave praise to the Heritage administration and the large supporting cast that played a role in the Patriots’ success. From current principal LaTonya Richards to former principal Greg Fowler, as well as athletic director Chuck Landy, his success would not have been possible without them, he said.
“They let me do my job,” Ramsey said. “When I look at support, it’s whether or not they’re letting me do my job, and they did. They were great sounding boards. I’ve been at places where the administration would hover over you. The Heritage administration supported me as a coach and let me do my job. As a coach, when you have administrative support, there is nothing better.”
Lastly, Ramsey thanked his assistant coaches, most of whom jumped on board with him Day 1 and rode out on top of Class 6A in 2019.
“I had the greatest coaches in Nick Woodward, Mike Twardos, Casey Shubert, and Brandon Davis,” Ramsey said. “I had the greatest coaches that anyone could ever have. They’re not only good coaches, but good men. They’re my best friends. You don’t have the success that we had without great players and a great staff. I had the best of both worlds.”
While Ramsey said it will be weird not putting on his Heritage baseball cap next season and stepping out onto Danny Blue Field for practice and games, his excitement to be apart of a solid program in Effingham makes it a little easier to move on.
“I’m extremely excited,” Ramsey said. “I got to know Chris Johnson. I didn’t know him before last year, but I liked the way their kids played the game. They have great support, too. They travel as well as any school that I’ve seen. It’s just a great area to raise kids. We are where we should be. I feel strongly on that.”