After one season, Al Pellegrino has stepped down as the head football coach at Sycamore High School.
“It was tough to say goodbye,” Pellegrino said. “With such a heavy heart I talked to the kids this morning (Monday).”
He will be coaching football and serving as the athletic director at Shaw High School in Columbus, Ga.
“It’s a great opportunity to go home,” he said. “It’s only seven miles from my mom, who has been ill.”
Pellegrino said he had attended high school at Shaw for a few years.
Sycanore assistant football coach Justin Robison has been named the interim coach, according to school officials.
Pellegrino said that saying goodbye to the Sycamore players was especially tough because the team was starting to establish itself.
“I know they will make a run for it this season,” he said. “I purposely waited for the dead period to be over so that the kids could be addressed directly.”
Under Pellegrino’s tenure in 2015, the War Eagles went 6-5 and advanced to the state playoffs.
Pellegrino said many coaches in the region had contacted him to wish him well and offer compliments on Sycamore’s improvement and reputation for toughness with great potential to be a powerhouse in the region.
“I want to thank the Sycamore family for welcoming me,” he said. “The players and their parents and my colleagues are all phenomenal people and made the transition easy that has helped us build this program at Sycamore. The kids bought into the program really fast, and when you get buy in from the kids, that makes it so much easier. I look forward to their continued growth as a powerhouse in the state.”
Pellegrino said he will keep in touch and will be staying up to speed on the War Eagles progress, adding that he did not think that his departure would come so quickly.
But the opportunity to be closer to home, especially with his mother’s health issues, could not be passed up.
“Should something happen, and I’m needed, I’m just minutes away,” he said.
Pellegrino said he officially starts his new position at Shaw on Aug. 1, even though football practice starts on July 12.
Pellegrino shared a parting comment on a promise he has hopefully delivered.
“The hospitable community at Sycamore has made this a great experience,” he said. “One thing I believe you must do in life is strive to leave things better than you found them,” he said. “I look around at the program and facilities and the players, and I believe this has been accomplished and will continue to improve and grow stronger.”