|Coach Larry Ginn talks to a player on the sidelines of an Alexandria game against Carbon Hill in this Nov. 12, 1999, file photo. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star|
ALEXANDRIA — When the Alexandria football team gathered around coach Larry Ginn for his customary end-of-practice speech Monday, he broke the news to them.
"He told us that he couldn't coach anymore, and that he was sick and he didn't know what was wrong with him," Valley Cubs quarterback junior Ethan Vinyard recounted later.
"I cried," Vinyard added. "It was just like a shock to us really."
A legend has stepped down, an era has ended, and all of it has happened less than five days from the season opener.
Ginn resigned Monday as football coach at Alexandria High School after more than 20 seasons at the helm. The resignation is effective immediately. His Cubs will play host to Oneonta on Friday night.
"It's time to retire as a football coach," said Ginn, who was 195-54 including a pair of Class 4A state championships in 1995 and 1997.
"Like anything else, there just comes a time in everybody's life when it's time to make a change and go in a different direction. It was pretty much that time."
Ginn's tenure as football coach dates back to 1986, when he took over the program after legendary coach Lou Scales stepped down.
While football is now in the past, Ginn said Monday that he's yet to make a decision on whether he'll coach basketball.
"I'm taking it one day at a time," said Ginn, who led Alexandria to a 12-1 record in 2006 and a fourth consecutive trip to the state semifinals where the team lost to eventual Class 4A champion Guntersville, 24-3.
"Today I resigned as the football coach. I will go to school tomorrow as a teacher. That's as far as I've gotten right now, I don't know what lies ahead."
What he's left behind is one of the greatest coaching careers in the history of Calhoun County high school sports.