By: Tuneel Speech
The spring semester is about to come to a close, and everyone is preparing for a new juncture in their lives that will spark new experiences and a de novo of memories .
The new memoirs will never boot away the distinct and cherished memories held by the softball manager, Ken Dayton and head women’s basketball coach, James Waldon.
The sweat and tears helped them and their teams reach success and become admired figures in their communities.
The Collegian sat down with both coaches, who shared their joy, memories and feelings about no longer being a part of the Jaguar family.
Ken Deyton, softball manager
The C: What has being a coach at GPC meant to you?
KD: “Although there has been a few changes in the past couple of years, I really enjoyed being a part of a team of people that were dedicated to bettering the lives of young adults. The platform that GPC provided its students I think allowed them a great chance to be successful. Being the softball coach of almost nine years, I have watched many of our student athletes move on to be school teachers, nurses, police officers, business people, wives, mothers and more, and helping them achieve their goals is very rewarding to me.”
The C: What was your proudest moment as a GPC head coach?
KD: “On April 26, our softball team won the GCAA regional softball championship. We have won the championship four times in my years at GPC; however, this year was special as the young ladies on the team accomplished the goal despite having their dreams of playing softball in college taken away due to the merger with Georgia State. They are amazing young ladies, and I am proud to be their coach.
The C: What will you miss about GPC after you move on?
KD: “Most of all I will miss the relationships with my players, but I also have grown fond of the city of Covington, and the many companies and people who support me and the softball program. My plans were to possibly retire at GPC because I really loved the job and the opportunity make something good into something great.”
The C: What are your honest feeling about this whole situation at the end of the season after the consolidation with G.S.U. was made public?
KD: “I’m losing my job, one that I worked a lot of years to get. I went back to school to qualify for the job, and my family sold our family business for me to take the job. I did tons of research on GPC before making the career change to coach a collegiate team full-time, and although the position is considered part-time, me and my family poured our hearts and souls into the student athletes and softball program. So my feelings are that I do not feel that the people making the merger decision ever thought to consider the sacrifices that myself as well as others and our families have made for GPC.
Enough about me: the majority of my current student athletes made a commitment to me and GPC as far back as 2011 and 2012 to attend GPC and play softball. They passed on numerous other scholarship opportunities along the way to accept ours. These student athletes and their families dedicate and devote most of their lives trying to achieve the goal of obtaining a college scholarship for the sport that they adore and love, and they had it stripped away because of the merger. All sports have different recruiting calendars and timetables, and unfortunately the timing of this announcement was detrimental to my softball student athletes’ careers. Additionally the college has not offered nor shown any guidance or concern for my student athletes, and that’s disappointing. I truly think the merger could have been handled differently when it comes to athletics.“
The C: What is in store for the next chapter of your life now that GPC athletics is coming to a close?
KD: “I’m not sure. I’m 50, and it’s been years since I have had to interview for employment. I hope to stay in coaching, but my options are limited because of my family and location. That’s another reason this whole thing stinks.”
James Waldon, head women’s basketball coach
The C: What has being a coach at GPC meant to you?
JW: “I raised two children, and I have a granddaughter now. The experience allowed me to do many good things, things I’ll be forever grateful for.
The C: What is your proudest moment as a GPC head coach?
JW: “Making a great name for the college. We’ve won many games and championships, but the biggest is making a name. Many girls wanted to come play for GPC.
The C: What will you miss about GPC when you move on?
JW: “The competition, always recruiting a new class and the excitement of rebuilding it every year. Everything changes year to year. It’s not like a four-year. That’s probably what I’ll miss.”
The C: What are your honest feeling about this whole situation at the end of the basketball season after the consolidation with GSU was made public?
JW: “It could have been done better. If they brought us in and said what was going to happen and prepare for it, it may not have made it better, but the fact is, the merger is taking place. I’m more disappointed that it happened. Opportunity will be taken from a lot of people, but that’s life.”
The C: Do you believe it’s unfair to those who played and coached at GPC?
JW: “Yes, the whole institution. GPC has meant so much to so many people over 50 years. It’s like a staple to the community. To wipe it out is like removing a historical landmark.”
The C: What’s in store for the next chapter of your life now that GPC athletics have come to a close?
JW: “This term has allowed me to evaluate who I am and what I want. I’m 60 years old, entering into that retirement phase of my life. That’s when you put things into perspective. I’m bringing many interests into focus now.”