Pine Forest girls basketball coach Chris Godwin entered into the profession knowing she wouldn’t coach forever.
In fact, she set a timetable for herself to get out.
But as is normally the case with coaches, the game kept sucking her back in, even after she passed her original deadline.
As her Eagles entered the 2014-15 season on the heels of a trip to the Class 6A state title game, she made a promise to herself that this would be it — win or lose.
Godwin guided her Eagles back to the state title game, this time bringing home the gold with a 46-28 win over Baron Collier to cap off a perfect 30-0 season. And, win or lose, Godwin stayed true to her promise.
She informed her team before spring break that she was calling it quits, and now the word is officially out as her head coaching position was opened on Tuesday.
Godwin was denied as a player, now a state champion
Godwin spent three years at Okaloosa Walton before returning to Pensacola to coach eight years at Woodham and eight years at Pine Forest.
“I always said when my son (Dylan) got in middle school that I was going to stop coaching to help do things with him,” Godwin said. “A year went by, and I thought about it really hard this past summer. I knew if I didn’t do it now, it’d be another year and another year and before you know it, he’s a sophomore in high school and I’ve missed out on so much.
“It’s always something else that brings you back. You always find reasons. You do it for these young people, and I wanted to be able to do the same for my own son. It was a very hard decision for me. That’s all I’ve ever done is play ball and coach.”
Now she’ll focus those efforts on her son Dylan — who is now a sixth grader at Ransom Middle School and active in sports. Professionally, she won’t be going anywhere, as she will remain at Pine Forest High School.
The reigning two-time Pensacola News Journal Coach of the Year says winning the state championship this season didn’t make leaving any easier, despite what people might think.
Pine Forest is perfectly flawless
“Did it help? It almost made it harder and I say that because I know people are going to talk and say that I’m just going out on top,” Godwin said. “Each year, I come up and say this will be my last year. I’ve been saying it for a few years now. This past year, I decided this was going to be it for me. I just so happened to make it back to state.”
Godwin said she wanted her players to be the first to know, so she told them the Wednesday before spring break. They were sworn to secrecy and did a pretty good job of not letting the news leak.
“People ask my ‘Why didn’t you tell anybody?’ I don’t roll like that,” Godwin said. “I even told (principal Frank) Mr. Murphy that I didn’t want a big announcement. That’s just not me. I’d rather it just remain quiet, but I guess it’s out there now.
“It’s hard leaving these girls. It’s relationships that you have and have built. Even the seniors, they were upset with me, even though they won’t be here next year. I kept telling them it had nothing to do with them. I just cried the whole time I told them.”
The search for Godwin’s replacement has begun, and despite losing a ton of starters including a couple of first-team All-State selections, Godwin said the expectations will remain the same.
“Mr. Murphy and coach (Jerry) Pollard know, they know we built this program to be on top,” Godwin said. “Expectation wise, they will expect whoever it is to come in and keep it up there and keep it competitive. Whether you lose six seniors or not, there’s still a demand and expectation.”