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Heaps leaving Hartselle to be head coach

Hartselle’s Chris Heaps is leaving home to take the head-coaching job at Central High School in Phenix City.

Heaps said this was just an opportunity that he had to pursue.

“I had been an assistant coach here for 16 years, but I always felt like I was destined to be a head coach,” Heaps said. “Financially, it will be a great improvement. My wife will teach in the system as well. It just felt this was the right opportunity for me and my family.”

Heaps said he’s received a lot of support from his former players and their parents after accepting the position.

“It’s just amazing the number of phone calls from former players I’ve received congratulating me on the job,” Heaps said. “It means a lot to get those calls because of the relationships I’ve developed with players over the years. I received so much love and support over the years. Hartselle has been a great place to me.”

Heaps, a 1990 graduate of Hartselle High School, in many ways helped pave the way for the future at his alma mater. He was the starting second baseman of the school’s first state championship team the year he graduated.

After batting .452 at Gadsden State Community College, he then became the first Hartselle player to be selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. He played three years with the New York Yankees organization.

He then returned to Athens State, where he received his bachelor’s degree in education, and then began teaching and coaching in Hartselle 16 years ago.

At Central-Phenix City, Heaps will be working with five current assistant coaches plus an additional one that he will select. The school competes on the Class 6A level and in the same area with Auburn, Opelika and Smiths Station.

He will be the head coach of the varsity, junior varsity and seventh and eighth grade teams.

Heaps described the last few weeks as “gut wrenching” because he’s leaving behind a lot of good friends. One of those is Hartselle head baseball coach William Booth.

“He’s been just like a father to me,” Heaps said. “He and I have worked together for a long time. We know how to push each other’s buttons, but we were always very professional with each other. He’s been a great mentor to me.”