Pelham baseball coach Sean Anderson retires after 30 seasons

Published 4:53 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

PELHAM – One of the longest tenured coaches in Shelby County is saying goodbye after a legendary career spanning decades in Pelham.

Pelham High School head baseball coach Sean Anderson announced his retirement after 30 seasons with the school in a meeting with players and coaches on Thursday, April 18.

“This decision was made after a lot of thought, consideration and prayer,” Anderson said. “I’m immensely proud of the individual and team accomplishments that I’ve shared with our great student athletes. Our mission has always been to mold and develop great young men, and through the support of our coaches, faculty, parents and community we have been able to do so at a high level.”

Anderson joined Pelham High School in 1994 and has served as the head of the varsity baseball program since 2013. During that time, he established the Panthers as one of Alabama’s premier baseball programs.

Under his leadership, Pelham won the Class 6A state title in his first season as head coach in 2013, and he was also an assistant on the 2004 state championship team. Overall, the Panthers made five state title games during his time as a head coach or assistant.

Anderson was also named the 2022 Class 6A Coach of the Year and Shelby County Coach of the Year after turning Pelham around from a losing record to make the state championship series.

Part of the reason Anderson believes it is time to say goodbye is because he wants to allow someone who has the energy needed to help the program succeed to take the helm.

“Thirty years is a long time at one place and just the energy that goes with it,” Anderson said. “Being fair to the program and to the kids, I think it’s important that that energy stays at a high level and I feel like mine has dropped. And so, when that happens, it’s time to make a decision to step aside and let somebody else come in and run it, and my hope and prayer is that whoever comes in next takes us back to where we have been and what we work for every year, and that’s to get in the playoffs to make a run to a state final.”

Anderson also wants to spend time with his family, including his son Justin, daughter Ashley and his two granddaughters along with his wife Tammy.

After 31 years of coaching and being away from his family for so long, he wants to repay them for their sacrifice and spend as much time as he can with them.

Anderson hopes to spend time with his wife, two children and two granddaughters in his retirement after 31 years of time away from them while coaching. (File)

“They’re the support system that makes it easy to be a coach,” Anderson said. “I’m gone a third of the year, and when I was doing football, two-thirds of the year, and she’s running the family and dragging kids everywhere and taking care of everything while I’m off doing what I love doing. When you look at it like that, you don’t know how many years you have left, but she deserves whatever I’ve got left.”

In addition to success on the field, Anderson mentored countless student athletes on the importance of community and character through dedication to service projects, youth programs and community outreach.

It’s his impact on generations of players, coaches and parents who have passed through the Pelham baseball program that his longtime colleague Kim Kiel, Pelham High School principal, believes will last for years to come.

“Beyond the wins and losses, coach Anderson’s impact on athletes and the entire Panther community is immeasurable,” Kiel said. “As someone who has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Sean for 26 years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the profound influence he has had, not just on the baseball field, but as a mentor and friend. Coach Anderson leaves behind a legacy of integrity, dedication and unwavering support. On behalf of everyone at Pelham High School, we are most grateful for coach Anderson’s legacy, and he will forever be a cherished member of the Panther family.”

That legacy came into view for Anderson earlier in the season when 15 of the 25 members of the 2004 state championship team returned to Pelham for a 20-year reunion ceremony.

He said the kind words that his former players gave him and the kind of people they are now means the most to him.

“The state championships are state championships the runners-up are runners-up, but the kids and watching them grow up and become good men and good husbands and good fathers, that’s probably the most important thing to me,” Anderson said. “Successful or not, money-wise, that doesn’t matter. They’re just great young men and I had a very small part of that. I’d like to think most of it was on their parents and our incredible staff here at Pelham that taught them all those years too.”

Building those relationships is the part of coaching that Anderson said he will miss the most.

“The thing that I will miss the most is just the interaction with the kids,” Anderson said. “I can go watch baseball anytime I want but being able to interact daily with those kids and find out what’s going on with them, that’s going to be the hardest part.”

Anderson wanted to thank many people who played a key role in his 30-year journey at Pelham, including his players and fellow coaches.

“First of all just all the players that have come to our program over the 30 years that I’ve been here and allowed me to work with them and coach them and lead them, all the coaches, the head coaches that I coached under and the assistant coaches that I coached with and the knowledge, friendships and just the conversations and the competition that we went through with all those guys, it means a lot when you look back on how many there were,” Anderson said.

Among the coaches he thanked was his longtime assistant David White who he has shared more than two decades of his career with.

“David White has been with me since we have been together since the fall of ‘04 and coached JV ball together and then he and I took over the program the fall of 2012 going into the ‘13 season, and he’s been my right-hand man the entire time and I could not have done that without him,” Anderson said. “He’s a tremendous person. He’s a tremendous coach and he’s a great friend and he made things a whole lot easier for me, and basically, he’s a second head coach.”

Anderson also thanked the many administrators who supported him throughout his career.

“Our administration throughout the years, from Mr. (Bob) Lavett giving me the opportunity to be the head coach, all the way back to the beginning to coach (Rick) Rhodes and Mr. (Tom) Ferguson giving me the opportunity to be a coach here, all the way up to our administration and superintendents that we’ve had with Dr. (Scott) Coefield and Dr. (Chuck) Ledbetter and the support that Pelham has given not just our baseball program, but our entire athletic program, and then Trey Simpson coming in as our athletic director and carrying on that tradition of support for the programs and giving us what we need and helping us, and of course, I can’t forget about coach Kiel, who we’ve been together for 26 years here at Pelham and watched her go from basketball coach to athletic director to district athletic director to principal and just her guidance and friendship and leadership throughout the years and support,” Anderson said. “We couldn’t have done any of this without any of those people.”

Anderson will maintain his role as assistant athletic director at Pelham High School while he is retired from coaching.

Pelham City Schools will begin the search for a new head baseball coach immediately.