Tim Lackey recently announced his retirement from coaching high school sports after a decorated 41-year career on the prep and collegiate levels.
“Over the past 40 years I have had one of the best seats ever, ‘on a bucket,’ on a ballfield watching young men and women play a game they love,” reflected Lackey. “And this year, the closing was a hard reality for me, but how blessed I have been that the Good Lord gave me these opportunities.”
Lackey graduated from North Wilkes High School in 1979 and began his baseball coaching career there in the spring of 1980, at the age of 18.
“I was told when I started coaching that I could mold young lives,” said Lackey. “I can say now they were right, but what those people did not tell me was this: my players would mold my life.”
Lackey said that coaching young people “made me a better father, teacher, coach, and mostly a better person because of their influence on me. Other than being called dad, being called coach has been the greatest title I could have ever asked for in my life.”
At the age of 23 he was hired as the head baseball coach at Wilkes Central High School. There won three Foothills 3A Conference championships and was the 1992 regional baseball coach of the year.
“I am proud of all the team accomplishments and the wins, but what I am most proud of is what they have become — fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and leaders in the community,” he said. “I do stand a little taller when I see them. And I want to thank each of them from the bottom of my heart for all the memories and everything they mean to me.”
After 13 years at Wilkes Central, Lackey headed the now-defunct baseball program at Wilkes Community College, where he was also lead architectural technology instructor.
Lackey coached football, volleyball, softball and baseball during his prep coaching career. He was an assistant coach on the West Wilkes 2013 softball team that won the 1A state championship.
Most recently, he served as assistant baseball coach at West Wilkes High School for six years under Drew Ward.
“I would be amiss if I didn’t include a huge amount of thanks to all the coaches who hired me or worked with me over the years,” he added. “I really appreciate the time we spent together and your trust to allow me to be a part of your program.”
Tim said the “true hero” in his coaching career was his wife, Melissa.
“She understands what being a coach’s wife is all about. She loves the game and understands it more at times than I do. She is and will always be the rock for me. And I know God put her in my life and I thank him every day for her.”
Tim and Melissa have a son, Cory, and a daughter, Courtney, who played baseball and softball at West Wilkes and Pfeiffer University and Guilford College, respectively.
“I would like to say thank you to Melissa and my kids, Courtney and Cory, for their support and patience over the years. The late nights, being late for meals, and the constant demand on my time, your time.
“I had the thrill of continuing to coach my daughter at the collegiate level with Guilford College, where on the sidelines as a coach I watched the hard work of a season being displayed when the Quakers upset the number one ranked team in the nation.”
Lackey concluded, “As I leave the dugout as a coach with mixed emotions, hard emotions, I know I am not walking away from the game, leaving it all together. I am just taking a new seat at the field that has been a part of me for the past 40 years.”