When you've had as much success as Ashley's had during his 43 year coaching career, you're free to walk away from the game on your own terms -- which is exactly what he did when he announced he'd be retiring after 41 seasons at Ingomar.
Whoever succeeded Ashley was going to have big shoes to fill. Thankfully, the school had someone waiting in the wings with decent coaching bloodlines. That would be Ashley's 35-year-old son, Jonathan, who decided to leave his job Myrtle (Miss.) High to take over for his father.
As the Associated Press reported, Jonathan Ashley left a highly successful Myrtle program -- he was 158-65 during his time at the school -- to follow in his father's footsteps at Ingomar.
"I felt like it was time to pass the baton on," Norris Ashley told the Associated Press. "I thought this was a great opportunity for Jonathan. We've got some talent coming back and I think he can take it to another level."
The decision wasn't an easy one for Jonathan Ashley. He had turned down his fathers offers in the past, but one conversation at the table sealed the deal.
"Basically, he told me he was ready to retire," Jonathan told the Associated Press. "He looked across that table at me and told me, 'I want you to take my place.'
"It was hard to turn him down."
Ashley isn't the first coach to take over for a long-tenured head coach. Just over a month ago, Prep Rally chronicled the story of 64-year-old Benton (Ind.) Central High baseball coach Gary DeHaven leaving after a 26-year coaching career and handing the reins for his program over to 23-year-old Tyler Rosenbarger.
While Rosenbarger has a tall task ahead of him as one of the youngest varsity baseball coaches in the country, you have to believe the pressure for Jonathan Ashley to follow in his father's footsteps and succeed will put the level of pressure at an entirely different level.
- Sports & Recreation