CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bob Lemley might use a proven formula to adjust to his retirement from coaching high school football.
Lemley,who announced his retirement last week as the coach at Poca after 24 seasons, has some experience in walking away from a game he loves. In 1969 he left professional baseball after two years in the Cincinnati Reds' minor league system.
"It's funny, but the first thing I did when I left baseball was I took up golf," Lemley said last week. "I used to play all the time. I haven't played much in the last few years, but I figure I'll be out golfing again a lot more now."
It seems fitting for Lemley to simply move on to another sport. After all, he's been involved in athletics as a player and coach for nearly 60 years and there has not been much he failed to accomplish.
He coached golf, baseball, track and football during his teaching career and led the Dots to four Class AA state championships in football.
Now at age 67, however, he said the desire to battle obstacles that are the product of modern society and being at a small Class AA school had finally been overwhelmed by a pursuit of peace. There was no bitterness to Lemley's explanation. No blame directed at others. His words were simply a clear-minded assessment that it is time for him to exit the stage.
"There's a lot of specialization anymore," Lemley said. "Kids want to play the sport they want to play in college, and not do anything else. That's fine, they can do that if it's in their best interests. But it also makes it harder for smaller schools to remain competitive on a yearly basis."
Poca has been one of the smaller schools in Class AA for some time, and when the most recent reclassification occurred in 2012 it was tied as the 30th-largest school among 40 in Class AA, with 533 total students in grades 9-12. This trend goes back even to the Dots' three-year run as football champs under Lemley from 2001-03.
Interestingly enough, the Dots didn't even qualify for the 16-team playoff field in 2000 or 2004, which adds credence to one of the favorite sayings of another former Kanawha Valley championship-winning coach, South Charleston's John Messinger.
"It's not about the Xs and the Os, it's about the Jimmys and the Joes," Messinger would say.
Lemley said he had been blessed with talented student-athletes throughout his tenure at Poca.
"You can have success with younger kids if you keep everybody together. That's what happened then," Lemley said of the three-year title run.