PF's Shultz steps down as hoops coach
After six seasons at the helm, Pigeon Forge boys basketball head coach Jonathan Shultz is stepping down.
Shultz, 33, told Pigeon Forge officials and his team the news on Monday.
"I just think he's done a fantastic job during all the time he's been here," Pigeon Forge Athletic Director Jim Lethco, who actually assisted Shultz on the bench, said. "I've enjoyed working with him as an assistant coach and athletic director.
"He's very professional, and I think he's going to be a success no matter what he does. I hate to see him go."
Shultz said Monday afternoon that he started questioning whether he'd continue at Pigeon Forge during the last part of the 2012-2013 season.
"Toward the latter part of the season I knew that the future was in question, but I didn't make an official decision until this past weekend," Shultz said. "I felt like I was trying to talk myself into coaching at Pigeon Forge, and the boys deserve someone that's sold out (on coaching here)."
Shultz was an assistant to Sevier County High School boys coach Ken Wright and SCHS girls coach Stacy Marine a one year before taking the job at Pigeon Forge. He was with Wright at Gatlinburg-Pittman for three seasons prior to that.
Shultz best seasons at Pigeon Forge came from 2010 to 2012.
"I felt like we had a good stretch there," Shultz said.
The Tigers went 13-13 in 2010-11, but showed marked improvement at the end of the season going 8-4 during a tough late-season push.
The team rebounded with their best season under the coach in 2012-13, when All-District seniors Andy Barnett and Curtis Jordan helped Shultz lead the team to a 19-13 record and region tournament berth.
After graduating four players from that squad and suffering a slew on injuries, this season's team struggled to a 7-21 mark, ending Shultz's career record at PF at 66-107.
"This year we had some injuries and tried to change the system, and struggled a bit," Shultz admitted. "But during this whole process I never felt external pressure, just internal pressure. And that's really all I've felt since I took the job at Pigeon Forge. I hold myself to really high standards, and sometimes you feel like you get to a point in a situation where you're at the end."
That end is now.
But Shultz isn't giving up on basketball.
"I want to stay active at coaching, and I'll look to maybe be an assistant somewhere," he said. "I want to take a step back and go back to just teaching and coaching basketball and not running a whole program.
"I felt like my time (at PF) was over, and I just felt like I needed to take a step back and go back to what I love most, teaching and coaching basketball.
"It's tough to leave, it's tough to leave the guys. I've really enjoyed the relationships that I've had the privilege to make at PFHS with the staff and members of the community. I don't plan on leaving the area, and I hope I maintain the friendships I've made (at PF)."
Lethco said that the newly-opened position at Pigeon Forge will be posted as soon as possible through the school system.
"We'll be in the process as looking for a coach and going through the applications," Lethco said. "We're wanting to fill it as soon as possible."