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Chapel football coach Shelton retires


George Shelton has decided the time is right to “step off the fast track.”

The Watson Chapel head football coach confirmed Tuesday that he has retired from his post, but left open the possibility of returning to coaching someday.

“I’m retirement eligible, according to the Department of Education,” Shelton said. “At 28 years you can get full-retirement, and my 29th year ends in May.

“I decided it was the right time for me to step out for a while.

Shelton said there are some “things out there” that could potentially draw him back to coaching.

“You step back and kind of reflect on things,” he said. “I think it was former Secretary of State (Hillary) Clinton who said when she resigned that she needed to step off the fast track.

“Well, now it’s time for me to step off the fast track for a little while.”

Shelton enjoyed a 15-year head coaching career, including the last six at Watson Chapel. He spent three years coaching at Augusta and six at Dollarway before coaching the Wildcats. Besides football, Shelton also coached high school boys track and field and taught health and study hall classes during his time at Watson Chapel.

Shelton, 55, said a medical issue factored into the decision, but he said it was definitely not the sole reason he’s stepping away.

“I have a little medical issue with my kidney,” Shelton said. “But I don’t know any 55-year-old walking around that doesn’t have something wrong with them.

“It’s not the complete thing, but it was a factor to make the decision to step away.”

Shelton said the medical issue is one that can be “rectified.”

“I decided that it’s better for me to stay away from the football part,” he said. “So that I can be available for anything that comes up medically.

“This way I won’t be handcuffed or tied to football.”

Watson Chapel athletics director John Hayden said the search for Shelton’s successor has already begun.

“We’ve opened the position up,” he said. “We’re placing an ad in a few newspapers and on some websites.

“We’ll be taking applications until April 22nd.”

When asked what the district was looking for in its next head coach, Hayden said, “We’ll start looking for the best qualified coach we can find.

“Finding a coach that can lead us in a positive way. That’s our goal.”

Watson Chapel High School principal Leydel Willis called Shelton “the most dedicated coach” she’s ever seen.

“I want it to go down in history,” Willis said, “that Coach Shelton was a great coach, a great disciplinarian and a great asset to Watson Chapel.”

Willis said Shelton will be missed at Chapel.

“He just decided it was his time to go,” Willis said. “I guess you just know when your time comes.

“We will really miss him. Coach Shelton was a real asset to our school.”

Shelton said he’s appreciative of his time at Watson Chapel, but that this was the best decision for himself.

“Last week, I turned in my resignation,” he said. “I’ve been off work a few weeks. I’ve been using my vacation and sick time the district gives us.

“During that time I’ve been thinking a lot about this decision. I really didn’t have anybody to consult with, but I think I made a really good decision.”