Jeff Adkins watched the mile markers tick by, each other making him more and more certain he was lost.
Adkins was in his first season as South Pittsburg (Tennessee) volleyball coach, and the Pirates were heading to Bledsoe County High School in Pikeville, Tennessee for a best-of-five match.
“I called back to the school and told them I’ve got to be lost,” Adkins said. “The person told me ‘just keep driving, you’ll find it.’ Eventually I did.
Adkins chuckled at the memory. It’s the type of thing he won’t miss now that his coaching career is over.
But the misses will far outweigh the “won’t miss” items for longtime Scottsboro head volleyball coach.
“I won’t miss the long drives, filling our purchasing orders, that sort of stuff,” he said. “But I’ll miss practice. I’ll miss the games. I’ll miss the relationships (with players and assistant coaches) and miss seeing (opposing) coaches. I love volleyball. It was just time.”
Adkins retired from the Alabama Educational system in 2013, ending his 20-year tenure at Scottsboro head coach. He took the Wildcats to three sub-state appearances and the 2006 team advanced to the Class 5A state tournament.
Adkins then took a teaching job at South Pittsburg. He didn’t intend to coach, “but it’s a small school, and when they needed a coach, you had to step up.” He coached the Pirates for five years.
But during the 2018 season, Adkins began to see that his plate was too full. Along with coaching volleyball and teaching algebra and geometry at South Pittsburg, Adkins was also working as an adjunct professor at Northeast Alabama Community College.
“Two jobs were plenty,” he said. “I decided to give (volleyball) up.”
He hasn’t gone cold turkey with the sport. Adkins will continue to follow the sports as a fan and said he’s more than happy to assist current coaches anyway he can.
He proved that last month when he conducted a volleyball clinic for the Scottsboro volleyball team. New Scottsboro head coach Ashley Smart said the clinic benefited her and her new team.
“You can just tell he knows what’s talking about,” Smart said. “He know (the sport). He did a really good job of teaching it to the varsity and all the way to the junior high (players).”
Adkins does not have an end date for his teaching career. When he does, he’s leaning toward getting into real estate. Adkins can’t sit on the front porch and whittle, he said, adding he’s not that type.
“I’ve still got plenty of energy,” he said. “I’ve got to keep busy. If I don’t, I’ll go crazy or drive someone else crazy.”
Adkins won’t miss those long drives back from matches in east and central Tennessee. That was one reason he scheduled South Pittsburg, located about a mile from the Alabama-Tennessee state lines near Bridgeport, a number of games with Jackson and DeKalb teams.
But those games also served as a Homecoming of sorts.
“Selfishly, it was a lot closer drive home,” Adkins said with a laugh. “But seriously I did like coming back and seeing other coaches and seeing former players or people we played against.”
One former player he coached against was North Jackson head coach Desiree Clark. She said playing for Adkins a great experience.
“He is a coach that pushed us but was never demeaning,” she said. “He was consistent and always pushed us to be better than we were the day before. He has impacted me as a coach in many ways. He showed me what a great coach looks like. Since I started coaching, he has always been there when I have asked for help or advice. I am very blessed to have had as a coach and a friend.”