The Highlands girls basketball team is searching for a new coach.
Two years into his stint leading the Lady Highlanders basketball program, coach Jacob Page has resigned to accept a coaching position in Georgia.
Page has traded mountains for the beach when he accepted the head boys basketball coaching job at Seminole County High School in Donalsonville, Georgia last week. Donalsonville is located in the Georgia portion of the Florida panhandle at the very edge of the state, near Dothan, Alabama, and an approximately two-hour drive to the Gulf of Mexico beaches near Panama City.
Page said, for him, accepting the position is returning home to be closer to family.
“I grew up as a child down there in that area and I have some family members down there and it was a great opportunity for my career,” he said. I look forward to the new challenge I have in front of me.”
Page spent just two seasons in Highlands as part of his first stint as a head basketball coach, coming up the mountain after serving as an assistant coach at Rabun County High School, but he made quite the impact. Page compiled a 27-27 record over those two seasons, with a compiled LSMC slate of 10-2. In 2019-20, Page won his first Little Smoky Mountain Conference championship and LSMC tournament crown guiding a young, but talented Lady Highlanders squad deep into the NC High School Athletic Association 1A state tournament.
His team still has high hopes and expectations for the 20-21 campaign.
“It was very hard making the decision to leave Highlands,” Page said. “I love it up here and will miss my players tremendously.”
Page and his team bonded from the opening tip of his inaugural season.
“We became a family and I will forever be thankful that I had the opportunity to coach these young ladies,” he said. “What we were able to do in my time here has been something that I will remember forever – An un-defeated regular season in conference, LSMC Conference Tournament Champions, and third round of state.
But most of all, Page added, it was about the relationships that he built that will last a lifetime. “The Highlands community took me in like one of their own and for that I say thank you,” he said.
Athletic Director Brett Lamb said replacing coaches is the nature of the beast in high school sports and praised Page’s efforts in the two years he was here.
“Jake took a young and talented team this season and took them deeper into the state tournament than any girls team since 2010,” Lamb said.
As for finding a new girls basketball coach during these COVID-19 times of social lockdowns and hiring freezes, Lamb said because Page’s position as a physical education teacher, his place is considered essential and the school is allowed to pursue a replacement both in the classroom and on the sidelines.
“We are already interviewing candidates for the position,” he said.