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Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Al Young has a deep love for the game of basketball, but his love for his wife, Jackie, made him step away from coaching the game.
Young, the former head boys basketball coach at North Augusta High School, retired from teaching and coaching, a decision that was extremely tough.
“It’s still difficult, I’m still having problems,” he said. “Mr. (John) Murphy mentioned to me the other day that there’s still time to come back, and I seriously went home and thought about it.”
The seafood restaurant Young and his family opened is one reason for stepping away from the program.
“I think the biggest thing is that we own a little restaurant and coming home to see my wife tired and frustrated – she’s been retired for a year – she’s been asking me about retiring,” he said. “The truth is, I hate to see her come home tired like she does, she’s working a lot of long hours, and I feel like I need to help out. She’s been very good to me and my career – taking care of a lot of things that I wasn’t able to. I feel like this is time that I can help her and give back to do some of the things she wants to do.”
Coming off back-to-back region titles with a strong core returning made Young agonize over the decision. Players like USA Today High School Sports 2013-14 All-USA South Carolina Boys Basketball second team member Chandler Harrison and point guard Jaquez Smith have North Augusta poised to compete for a third consecutive region title.
“The good thing is we’re leaving behind some really good players and a good team,” Young said. “I think that gives the person coming in an opportunity to be successful. That’s what I always hoped, to leave behind something that can be successful and that can be built on. I feel good about that.”
While Young won’t be at the helm for the Jackets, he will be around at games next season.
“I hope to be at the games next year,” he said. “I want to be here to see the kids play and cheer them on; I want to see them do well. I really enjoy being around the team. I certainly enjoy basketball, I’m beginning to realize how much I’m going to miss it. At my age, I might not be able to do this again.”
Harrison, the top returning player for the Jackets, said initially Young’s departure hurt but is now motivation for the season.
“I’ve got to step up and work even harder now,” he said. “I’ve got to prepare myself for whatever the new coach brings. Coach (Young) always told us to never give up and to give it our all and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Bryan Narcisse, a former Jacket, Clemson Tiger and Harlem Globetrotter, credited Young with teaching him about basketball and life.
“Coach Young was definitely one of the pillars in the foundation of my life,” he said. “I learned so much about work ethic, priorities, goals and leadership from him.”
Narcisse served as an assistant coach for North Augusta this past season, which is said was an honor.
“I think one of the biggest things that I stressed to the players this past year is although coach’s tactics don’t always make sense to them. As a former player, you’ll be thankful and appreciative for why he did what he did,” Narcisse said. “Everyone who has had the privilege to play for him can look at the maturation they’ve experienced through that time frame and say Coach Young definitely played a part in that.”
Murphy, principal at North Augusta High School, said Young cannot be replaced by one person.
“He’s a terrific man, and we’re going to miss him,” Murphy said. “He’s been a mentor and a role model to me through the years. He’s one of those guys that is so valued in so many ways, besides being a basketball coach. You don’t replace those type of people. You just hope you can find someone in the hiring process that can grow into that type of leader that Coach Young is. I’m going to miss him.”
Young’s Seafood, the best place to find Young, is located at 514 Belvedere-Clearwater Road.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.