Citing a desire to spend more time with his family, Hank Peppers is stepping down as boys' head basketball coach at LaFayette High School.
Peppers spent 10 seasons coaching the Ramblers, the last six as head coach where he amassed a 119-45 overall record. His teams advanced to the Sweet 16 twice and the Elite Eight in Class 4A once. That came during the 2017-2018 season when the Orange-and-Black won their first region title in 27 years.
LaFayette qualified for the state playoffs three times, hosted a total of four state playoff games, won 23 or more games for the past three seasons and has seen six players sign or go on to play the collegiate level.
Peppers notified the team of his decision on Thursday, saying that as much as he loves coaching, he's reached a point in his life where his family has to come first.
"We have a four-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son and my world revolves around them," he explained. "The majority of the time, from October until March and also all of June, year-in and year-out, I leave for morning basketball workouts before my kids are awake and often times they're asleep before I make it home from practice and games. I end up going entire days away from my family.
"The late night games on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, as well as overnight summer camps, have led to me missing a lot of time with my kids. That's very hard on my family and I and each year it's become increasingly harder to be away from them."
Peppers said he has loved every second of the last 10 years, adding that some of the best memories of his life been coaching basketball at LaFayette.
"I have poured my heart and soul into this program and I am extremely proud of all that we have accomplished," he continued. "I have coached many amazing young men and great players and I love them all dearly."
Peppers is currently completing the Walker County Leadership Academy program, is working on his Masters Degree and said he plans to pursue a career in administration within the county.
"I absolutely love LaFayette High School and being part of the Walker County School System," he continued. "I'm very grateful for every principal that I have ever worked for because they have all been extremely supportive of the basketball team and myself. I'm excited about our new principal, Maggie Stultz, and the amazing things that she is going to do at LHS.
"I want to thank the best coach I know, Tommy Swanson, because he's always been a great mentor to me, and he's the main reason that I decided to come to LaFayette 10 years ago. I want to sincerely thank my wife and kids, all of the staff here at LHS, the great parent volunteers, all of our sponsors and those who have helped to improve our program. Lastly, I want to thank our amazing community who has been behind us and supported us to the fullest every step of the way."
Stultz called Peppers a "#RamblerReady teacher and coach at heart".
"He sincerely cares about the well-being of all his students," she began. "He pushes himself to be the best and models what he expects from his players and his assistant coaches and he's developed a strong legacy of integrity for the game of basketball.
"It will no doubt be tough shoes to fill, but I have faith that the right person will come along that is ready to take this boys' basketball program Hank has begun into the next level of stardom. I'm excited to see him be able to step aside to make room for being the best dad he can be for his precious family."
Peppers said he wasn't permanently closing the door on coaching, adding that he does plan to return to the sidelines one day, but only after his children are older.
"I will always be a coach at heart and have a passion for helping young people," he said. "The future is very bright in boys' basketball (at LaFayette) with a lot of great players returning and I'm very excited to see the amazing things that the team will continue to accomplish. I'll continue support them in every possible way."
Stultz said that she, along with Walker County Schools System Athletic Director, Chris Jones, will begin a search to find the team's new head coach.