Tucker left the Calhoun County school he guided to an AHSAA Class 3A state softball title this past spring to take a job at Baldwin County High School.
“I’m pleased and excited that we were able to win a state championship,” Tucker said. “We didn’t move to go to a different school. It was to be closer to family.”
He has a daughter who’s a single mother, raising a 22-month-old in Pensacola, Fla., and his wife’s family is from nearby Daphne. The New Orleans native will coach volleyball at his newest destination and could wind up on the softball staff as well once his roles are completely defined.
Baldwin County principal Johnny Cabbanis recommended Tucker two weeks ago. The hiring became official with the Baldwin County Board of Education’s approval Thursday afternoon, Tucker said.
Tucker, the head volleyball coach at Mississippi State University from 1986-1994, spent the last four seasons at Saks. The Lady Wildcats improved their record each year during his tenure. They won 23 games in 2008, 31 in 2009 and 32 in 2010. This past fall, they went 37-8 and captured their fourth consecutive area title.
“Two years before I got here they won the state championship,” Tucker said of Saks’ volleyball program. “But the year after that I think they only won five matches.”
Tucker spent a year as an assistant under former Saks softball coach Randy Law, the man whom the Lady Wildcats’ field is named after. In its first season under Tucker, Saks finished fifth in the state. In 2011, the Lady Wildcats placed third. They won it all back in May in their third-straight trip to the state tournament held at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.
“You want to leave a program stronger than it was when you got there,” Tucker said. “(Girls basketball coach Michelle) Lively and I have built it into one of the best overall programs in the county with her winning the area and reaching the regional finals in basketball.”
Tucker was at an AHSAA banquet in Montgomery to honor coaches who won a state title this past school year Friday afternoon. He’s set to meet the team he’ll guide on the court for the first time Monday. He’ll also be responsible for running a three-day camp and guiding his new squad, which has gone without a coach this summer, through preseason workouts.
His arrival in Lower Alabama will be a return to familiar surroundings for Tucker. He spent six years in Mobile at Class 4A UMS-Wright for two stints at the private school. He and his wife had discussed moving back to the area a while ago, he said. When he became aware that there might be an opening at Baldwin County three or four weeks ago, he sent an informal email to introduce himself to the school’s administration. Shortly after he fired it off, Baldwin County Athletic Director Bobby Moore had contacted him.
With Tucker’s resignation effective Friday, Saks administrators can advertise the opening Monday. It must remain posted for 10 business days.
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.