After 12 seasons, numerous region titles, several deep playoff runs and a pair of state finals appearances, Brent Tucker is stepping down as head baseball coach at Ringgold High School.
Tucker, who followed in the footsteps of the legendary Bill Womack at Ringgold, has cemented his own legacy with the Tigers, which included state finals appearances in 2010 and 2012 and a final four appearance in 2018.
"It's been a heck of a 12-year run," said Tucker, who has more than 300 career victories to his credit. "But the time is right to move on. It just kind of felt right to graduate with the graduates, so to speak".
Tucker, 1989 graduate of LFO, coached for one year at Chattooga before spending five years as head coach at Lakeview Middle School. He returned to LFO for two seasons and then spent five as head coach at Ridgeland before taking over the Ringgold program in 2007.
"I look back at myself as a coach 20 years ago and I didn't know what I was doing," Tucker said. "But Ringgold is where I figured out how to be a coach and it's home. It's always a good hat to wear."
Tucker said he felt plenty of mixed emotions when he told his team of his decision Monday afternoon.
"It was tough, but there are so many memories," he said. "Playing for the state championship the first time (in 2010) was great and then with the tornadoes in 2011, that was a very long, tough year, but coming back to play for a state championship in 2012 was pretty awesome.
"Then really these last four years, I got to coach a bunch of guys that I had coached since some of them were five or six years old. We had a whole lot of success."
Ringgold Athletic Director Lee Shell said Tucker would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to replace for everything he did on and off the field.
"Not only is Brent a phenomenal baseball coach, he's a phenomenal human being," Shell began. "He loves Ringgold baseball. He's put in so many hours and sacrificed so much time to work on the facilities and to do other things that people don't always see. He'll go down as a legend of Ringgold baseball, right alongside Bill Womack. There's no doubt.
“He’s given me guidance and advice at times and I consider him a good guy and a friend. He has such a big heart and it’s going to be tough to replace him. It will be kind of odd having Ringgold baseball without Brent and (Tucker’s son) Holden out there. They’ve been a part of this for so long.”
Tucker said there were a lot of people he owed a debt of gratitude to that have helped make Ringgold baseball a success.
"I have to say a huge thank-you to all of the players," Tucker began. "Those guys put in a lot of work in making us successful. They always wanted to win and they always wanted to get better. And there was a lot of work that the parents did as well, from running the concession stands and grill to helping raise money. I have to thank them as well. The support has always been here to make this program successful."
Shell said that the school hopes to have a new head coach named in the near future and Tucker said he would give the same advice to the Tigers' future skipper that Womack gave to him 12 years ago.
"He told me to take the program and totally make it my own and that's what the new coach should do," he said. "Ringgold is a baseball community. It always has been and always will be. The people here love baseball and the expectations will always be there. (The new coach) will have the athletes and if he is willing to work his butt off for them, then they will work their butts off for him."
For now, Tucker said he still plans on teaching at Ringgold next year and that he is leaving the door open to perhaps coach again down the road. But he said that his successor will have plenty of tools to work with.
"The system is in place here," he continued. "There's a process that has been proven successful. The program has got a great foundation and there's a lot of good years still ahead for whomever takes over. Ringgold is a fun, fun ride for a head coach."