It was a natural question. When Chris Kane came to Pinecrest Academy in 2008 to become head coach of the girls’ and boys’ soccer teams, he was leaving the world of Division I coaching after 10 years. From Rutgers to Georgia to La Salle to Marshall, his job title said coach, but his responsibilities went far deeper – academics, equipment, recruiting, schedules, travel.
“Most people don’t realize 90 percent of that job is administrative,” Kane said, “and 10 percent is coaching.”
Kane said he was asked at the time if he’d ever be interested in getting into administration. Sure, he said, but only one job: athletic director.
Booked; Pinecrest had one, a good one. Kane, instead, focused on building the Paladins’ soccer programs into one of the best in the Georgia Independent School Association and then a contender in the Georgia High School Association.
So when Pinecrest athletic director Tom Palmer announced his retirement in November effective at the end of this school year, Kane saw a second chance he couldn’t pass up.
Neither could Pinecrest, which named the veteran coach as Palmer’s replacement on Monday.
“I’m really excited,” Kane said. “I’m super excited and anxious; just relieved really. It’s been a long process. It was an arduous process, but it was a fair process, and I’m just happy that I was able to shine through and the administration made the choice in my favor.”
Kane will continue as girls’ and boys’ soccer coach through the remainder of the school year. For the boys’, he’s hoping to build off last season’s Region 8-A championship, the first for a Pinecrest athletic program since joining the Georgia High School Association. For the girls’, he’s hoping to maintain their place in the top 10 rankings, a milestone of its own.
“I just can’t wait to get started, but I hope to have a lot of success in soccer before I have to get started,” Kane said.
The transition will begin in July for Kane. He’ll step down as social studies department chair, vacate his history teaching position and help hire a new soccer coach (or coaches).
Kane will step into Palmer’s job at an intriguing junction for Pinecrest. Palmer led Pinecrest through something of a transformative stage, ushering the Paladins’ athletic program into the GHSA in 2009 after years in the Georgia Independent Schools Association.
After some growing pains, Pinecrest teams have started to emerge as contenders on the state level. It began with Kane’s boys’ soccer team last season, winning a region title and qualifying for the Class A tournament. Pinecrest’s football, girls’ basketball and volleyball teams have each made state playoff appearances since then.
“Coach Palmer has done a fantastic job in the last three, three and a half years he’s been in charge,” Kane said. “My goal is to continue with that momentum and continue with the success.”
Kane said his vision is for Pinecrest to eventually become “one of the preeminent athletic programs in Georgia in the [Class] A private classification.” He cited other Catholic private schools in the metro Atlanta region with rich traditions of athletic success like Blessed Trinity, Marist and St. Pius X as examples, places where making the playoffs is assumed.
“The goal is now to win [in the playoffs],” Kane said. “And that’s a process.”
Kane said he wants to make the life of the Pinecrest coach easier – no more worrying about budgets or rescheduling games or cancelling referees. Just coaching and teaching.
He wants to make the life of the Pinecrest athlete better, the unity of athletics at the school stronger overall.
“We’re all in this together,” Kane said. “When one of us succeeds, we all succeed. … If we can get that mindset, I think success will just breed itself.”