Cheek out as Sardis coach

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By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter

The most successful varsity boys basketball coach in modern Sardis High School history won’t be back on the bench for the 2014-15 season.

Sardis principal Wendy Gibbs has relieved Tracy Cheek of his duties following 12 seasons at the helm of the Lions.

Cheek’s teams compiled a 187-152 record and posted nine winning seasons. His 2005-06 squad won a school-record 25 games. Cheek, who teaches anatomy, physiology, forensic science and health, expects to continue coaching the school’s cross country team. 

“They wanted to have a change in direction,” Cheek said. “That’s what [Gibbs] told me. I told her I’m the winningest coach in the history of Sardis, with 187 varsity wins. We had three 20-win seasons, the only county championship, two area tournament championships, the only regional appearance and five sub-regional appearances.

“I appreciate the opportunity. I’ve served the school and the community for 12 years. Twelve years in the coaching business today is a long time. It’s especially a long time, I feel like, if you’re not from there, if you’re not at your home school.

“I look back, and the year before I got the job was a winless season, and we leave with 18 wins, an area runner-up, a Christmas [tournament] championship at Brindlee Mountain and a lot of success, one of our better years. I’m happy to go out at 18-10.

“[Gibbs] asked if I wanted to resign, and I said I don’t have anything to resign for. You do what you need to do.”

This is Cheek’s 20th year as an educator. He taught two years in a private school and has spent 18 years in the state’s public school system. He came to Sardis from Boaz in July of 2002.

“Do I want to coach basketball? I do,” Cheek said. “Will I sit a year or two and rest my mind? I don’t know. Opportunities are going to present themselves, and I’m going to look at them, but now I have to do what’s best for me and my family. 

“The Lord blessed me with that opportunity to take that program to a new level. I would hope someone can come in and build on it.

“They’ll find it financially stable. They’re going to find Under Armour uniforms and Nike uniforms from head to toe, they’re going to find a phenomenal facility to play in and they’re going to find it in much better shape than I found it. So for that, I’m grateful.”

Cheek also had stints as the coach of Sardis’ eighth-grade, freshman and junior varsity boys teams. 

“He went 14-5 in one year with the eighth-graders, and his two freshman squads compiled a 30-2 record. He was 59-16 in three years with the JV boys.

“I’ve won an eighth-grade county championship, a freshman county championship, a JV county championship and a varsity county championship all there for a total of 290-175,” Cheek said. “That’s pretty solid. I had a lot of kids, just a lot of kids over the years who are very special to me. It will be a special place, because I got to spend 12 of my 13 years as a varsity head coach (at Sardis).

“I feel like we took the program from a doormat program to highly respectable around north Alabama, and definitely in this area. We’ve been very competitive.”

The Lions’ 2013-14 season included wins over Glencoe and Southside.

“We beat Glencoe at Glencoe, a county archrival,” he said. “That Glencoe game was in overtime, and winning at Glencoe by itself is a task. Then we beat Southside in double overtime at our place in one of the classic games of the season. It will rank up in the top 10 of my coaching memories.

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