No aspect of this decision-making process was easy for Nick Mead, who announced his resignation from Catholic High last Tuesday.
“I love being a dad … more than anything else,” said Mead, who has a 3-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. “Taking care of my kids and spending more time with them — that’s the driving force here. I’m not excited to leave Catholic High, but I am excited about new ventures and taking on an opportunity to be a better dad. I’ve been offered a job working in sales in a private sector. It’s an opportunity where the time away from my kids will directly equate to supporting them.”
The move was a subject which Mead, the 14-year coach, had been devoting thought to for more than a year.
“Your priorities start to change, and that’s the struggle anyone who coaches has gone through,” Mead said. “Especially if you get into coaching before marriage and having kids. It’s an adjustment … but the transition was smooth, and that is a big testament to my wife.
“Just over two years ago, we were handed news that my son had developmental delays related to the autism spectrum disorder. We weren’t in a financial panic … but I will never forget that day. With the family support and the community support — whether it was from Catholic or outside of Catholic — I felt like the luckiest guy on the planet.”
Feedback again flowed in Mead’s direction after his June 30 announcement that he would resign. Whether it was a former basketball player who helped capture one of Mead’s five district titles, a student who appreciated Mead’s guidance and friendly, “tough-love” from his role as school dean, or anyone in the Catholic High community who noticed the coach’s genial personality, it was clear that Mead would be deeply missed.
“The out pour of love and support has been amazing. I have gotten full support for making the right move for my family. At a lot of places, a coach resigns and they just move on to the next one. Or the community is happy and they take jabs at the coach. I’ve gotten none of that. It speaks to the kind of place that Catholic High is.”
Mead’s feedback featured positive comments of all varieties. From calling Mead a “big brother” or a “father figure,” to crediting Mead for building Catholic’s basketball program, countless compliments were dished out.
But as far as the status of the program and Mead’s influence, the 34-year old sees it differently than some of his supporters.
“It makes me laugh … I didn’t make this program and I surely didn’t make (Catholic High) school,” Mead said. “Anybody who comes in here with the right head and right heart can make an impact. Catholic High is special. This place made me. And it’s really proven itself in the past week or two.”
While Mead won’t be leading from the sidelines in the winter when the Crusaders tip-off their season, know he will be beyond-happy being “dad,” and will often be in attendance at Catholic’s newly-refurbished basketball gym.
“There are still big things to come from Catholic High … whether it’s in the gym or in the school,” Mead said. ” Catholic is always gonna be home … so you’ll see me.
“Catholic is the school that it is because of the leadership here. The basketball program has reached it’s status because of the backbone of the support and the quality of the kids. They see what this place is and they buy in. That won’t change without me at Catholic.”
1,000 point scorers: Mead saw two of his Crusaders reach 1,000 career points. First, Gavin MacNeil in 2008 … Mead’s first year as varsity head coach. Then, Brad Hartnett — a four-year starter under Mead — reached the milestone this past year during Mead’s final season.
Battles with Marianna High: Throughout the 2013-14 season, the Crusaders and the Marianna Bulldogs clashed four times. The Bulldogs won the two regular-season meetings, but the Crusaders prevailed in the district championship as well as the regional semifinals. The competition was so intense in the final meeting that the air conditioning malfunctioned and the game was delayed 40 minutes. Mead said the match-up created an “incredible atmosphere.”
2013 District Championship: The Crusaders hosted the Walton Braves for the district title, and jumped out to an early lead in the contest. But Walton battled back and whittled away at the lead. The game came down to a final shot at the buzzer, which was missed by Walton and would have clinched the district. Mead recalled moving through the pandemonium to find his family immediately after the buzzer.