Eric Herrick doesn't want his coaching career to end with any lingering regrets, and he had that in mind when making an important decision recently. But that didn't mean it was going to be an easy move, which was clear when he met with his former players to give them the news on Wednesday morning.
"A lot of tears, a lot of laughs, a lot of hugs," Herrick said.
Herrick, who had led the North Forsyth girls basketball team to two straight semifinal appearances, is leaving that program to be the next boys basketball coach at Dawson County. The hire was approved at the Dawson County Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday evening.
"We're happy for him," North athletic director Scott Tilden said. "We're very thankful for the time and thankful for what he's done at North Forsyth High School."
Herrick was hired at North from Chattahoochee in 2011, and since then has become one of the county's most successful basketball coaches. The Raiders reached 20 wins or more in the majority of Herrick's seasons, made the state playoffs in seven of his eight seasons, and over the past two have gone 54-8 combined without losing a game in Region 5-7A competition. They've reached the state semifinals the past two years, losing to Westlake both times. Herrick finished with an overall record of 191-47 with the Raiders.
"I just wish him the best," said Forsyth County athletic director Nathan Turner, who hired Herrick during his tenure as North's AD. "It's been a wonderful ride."
This won't be Herrick's first time coaching boys basketball: He began his career as an assistant for two season and a head coach for one with the boys team at Glascock County. While he anticipates some adjustments in the upcoming, he also expects the pillars of effort and tough defense upon which he built the program at North to carry over.
And the boys team at Dawson County, a Class 3A program, has been on the up in recent years. The Tigers finished 27-5 in 2018-19, reaching the state semifinals, and while they graduate All-Region 7-3A Player of the Year Luke Chism, they also return All-Region first team honorees Jasper Gibson and Campbell Reed. Former Tigers head coach Chad Pittman announced in April that he was retiring.
That recent success was certainly at the forefront of Herrick's mind when deciding to take the job. The stature he built at North gave him the luxury of being selective when choosing his next opportunity.
"There's no way I was leaving North for a mediocre program," Herrick said.
The Raiders are set up for future success as well. Herrick has helped cultivate a deeply-rooted feeder program and has known the team's current group of incoming seniors since they were in third grade. That group includes All-County Co-Players of the Year Caroline Martin and Ansley Allen, and North is graduating just one senior from this past season's team.
When asked for his thoughts on the upcoming coaching search at North, Herrick was concise but clear.
"I'll just say this: We have a great staff in place," he said.