When he considered other jobs, it was never easy for Bob Pickett to consider leaving Macon East Academy.
When he finally made that choice, a few days before the Fourth of July, his first stop was to see manager Glynn Lott before assembling his players.
“It was extremely exciting, telling the kids and even Coach Lott,” Pickett said. “It’s not like I’m leaving on bad terms. I am forever grateful to Coach Lott for giving me a chance. His family will always be friends. They are like a family.
“Throughout the 10 years, it’s not just me who’s seen countless players and hopefully impact a few lives, they’ve also seen my family grow. Sarah and I went there childless and now have two. It’s the only school Walker has ever known.
“They have been wonderful to my family. I want nothing but the best for Macon East. I will always be a horseman at heart. I’ll still be rooting for them, just from a different angle.”
Pickett accepted a job as defensive coordinator and assistant baseball coach at Ariton High, reuniting with Steven Kilcrease after serving on the same coaching staff at Pike Liberal Arts from 2007-2012.
Lott, meanwhile, moved quickly to fill the position, hiring baseball assistant Will Graham to fill Pickett’s position on the diamond and promoting Duane McWhorter to take Pickett’s role as defensive coordinator on the football team.
Still, it wasn’t easy to replace a football coach in July or find a baseball coach to take over a perennial state championship contender.
“When he came and told me, I told him what I tell everybody: He has to do what’s best for him and his family,” Lott said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for Bob. We cannot thank him enough for what he has done here. Our relationship isn’t just training, we’re also friends, so I want the best for him.”
When Pickett arrived at Macon East Academy in 2013, the Knights had missed the playoffs, and while they were still considered one of the state’s top Alabama Independent School Association baseball programs, they had fallen short of expectations in two years. previous.
It took Pickett a few years, but the Knights won the first of five district titles under Pickett in 2015 and advanced to the finals that year. Since then, they’ve won state championships in 2017, 2018 and 2022 and reached the semifinals in 2021, winning at least 25 games and hosting the state playoffs every year since Pickett’s arrival.
Originally a multi-sport star at Hooper Academy who envisioned himself as a basketball coach, his net work has helped the Knights earn five straight trips to the state playoffs — including three semifinal appearances — and his record 261-104 in the diamond has increased its marketability throughout the state.
Pickett admits he had accepted offers before, but a public school offer from Kilcrease was too good to pass up for a coach in the private school ranks with no retirement plan and rising health care costs.
“They’ve had one or two jobs come up in the past,” Pickett said. “I got my master’s and my state certification and I wasn’t really looking because I know I have some talent (at Macon East) for the next couple of years, but I’m also 40 years old and I’m not getting any younger.
“That was part of it. The rest, as a coach, I’m a competitor and I’ve been quite successful at that. I want to see if I can do it again.”
He said he didn’t decide until he visited Ariton and spoke with principal Josh Herring.
“He’s a lot like Coach Lott,” Pickett said. “Coach Lott is Macon East. He bleeds red, white and blue. Mr. Herring oozes purple and gold. He cares passionately about the school. It’s bigger than the Macon, but it’s not a big jump in size for me or (Walker). And it’s the only K-12 school in the county, so Walker will be in school with me and that was a plus, too.”