Sebring High School’s Mike Lee, the dean of the girls basketball coaches in Highlands County, is stepping down after a successful eight-year run at the helm of the Blue Streaks program.
“I just think it’s time for someone else to be the coach,” Lee said. “It’s been amazing, I love coaching and have a passion for it, but maybe a different coach can get some more girls to come out for the team. The last few years we haven’t had a lot of kids that wanted to play basketball and I’m thinking there’s another coach who can get some more kids fired up and involved with the program. This isn’t permanent. I will get back into coaching if the right opportunity comes around at some point.”
Lee, who was an assistant coach for two years when Robert Sampson was Sebring’s head coach, took over the team when Sampson left eight years ago.
Sebring, which has been very competitive under Lee’s guidance, qualified for the state playoffs a number of times, and the Blue Streaks have had several players go on to play basketball in college.
“Being part of Coach Sampson’s group was amazing,” Lee said. “I learned a lot from him and then I really enjoyed my time as the head coach. I was also able to coach my daughter, Whitney, her senior year and that was a lot of fun.”
Besides helping to develop his players in basketball, Lee also helped to develop them as people.
“The relationships with the players is what matters,” Lee said. “The games are fun, but when you get a chance to work with and coach kids and even after they’re done, they still call and ask for advice, that’s what coaching is about.”
The search is underway to fill Lee’s position.
“We’re looking in-house first,” said Sebring High Athletics Director Brian Lang. “The next step is to put it on the Highlands County School Board website and then we’ll see from there. It would be easier if we have the coach be a teacher at Sebring. Mike is an incredible person. The time he puts in with his students and with basketball and volleyball is unbelievable. It’s going to be a huge loss for our athletic programs.”
The affable Lee, a three-sport athlete and 1979 graduate of Lake Placid High, will continue to teach Algebra at Sebring High and looks forward to the future.
“I’ve been coaching in some capacity for 28 years,” Lee said. “My wife Jodi has been very supportive of my coaching and I really appreciate that. I will continue to help coach the volleyball team and we’ll see what the future holds.”