After 15 years of leading the Hillgrove Hawks boys basketball team, Head Coach Ed Morris has decided to step down. In fact, Coach Morris is the only person to hold that title, having been the Hawk head coach since the beginning of the program 15 years ago.
“Getting to start this program from the ground up was such an honor,” Coach Morris said. “Now I plan to see it flourish into a respected program around the state.”
Being modest is one of Coach Morris’s enduring traits, because Hillgrove already IS a respected program. Coach Morris finishes his Hawk coaching career with a 61.3% win percentage, and an overall record of 259-162. The Hawks qualified for the state tournament 13 years in a row, making it to the Sweet 16 six times, the Elite 8 four times, once to the Final Four, and once to the state championship game. Under his leadership, Hillgrove has notched a Region Championship and a State Runner-Up trophy.
“Coach Morris has won not only on the court as a coach, but in life with his players,” said Hillgrove Athletic Director Jonathan Brown. “I have competed against him as a coach, and now get to work alongside him. He is a great family man and coach who players, parents, and the community respect. He laid the foundation for Hillgrove Boys basketball.”
“Coach Morris and his wife and kids have given a lot to this school and program,” continued AD Brown. “He created life-long relationships with players who are now fathers and working adults.”
Building relationships with his players is one of Coach Morris’s biggest joys of coaching. “I coached them for four years, but I gained friends for life,” Coach Morris said. “I want them to remember me as a coach who cared about them as a person, not just as basketball players.”
Coach Morris began his coaching career at local rival McEachern High School. He served on the Indian staff for eleven years before making the move to Hillgrove. Overall, he has coached in Cobb County School District—and Powder Springs—for 26 years. “Joe Boland gave me the opportunity to start the program at Hillgrove,” Coach Morris said, “and I’ll always be grateful for that. I have built lasting relationships with so many other teachers and coaches and their families along the way.”
One of Coach Morris’s closest friends is North Cobb’s head coach, Terry Gorsuch. “Coach Morris and I became friends when he was at McEachern,” Coach Gorsuch said. “We had a coaching group that would meet and exchange ideas. Hillgrove teams were difficult to beat under Coach Morris. They were prepared, executed the fundamentals, and well-coached.”
On the court, Coach Morris is a fiery competitor who really wants to win. Some of his fondest memories over the years are victories that he shared with his players, his coaching staff, and his school. But when asked how he wants to be remembered, wins on the court are not at the top of the list.
“I want to be remembered as a coach who held himself and his players to a higher standard,” he said, “and that I ran the program with integrity. I want people to remember that I always tried to do my best and what is right, and that I treated others the way I wanted to be treated.”
Coach Morris isn’t sure what the future holds for him at the moment. “I am just resting right now and letting God direct my next steps,” he said thoughtfully. “I hope the program continues to use basketball to teach young men how to handle situations they may encounter in life.”
If what his colleagues say about him are any indication, Coach Morris can consider his legacy at Hillgrove secure.
“Ed Morris is a class act and a true professional,” said Cobb District Director of Athletics, Don Baker. “He did a great job not only building the Hillgrove basketball program but leading them to a state championship appearance in 2013. I know that his contribution to the Hillgrove community will be missed, but his legacy will be spelled out in the futures of the young men he was able to influence as they become great husbands, fathers, and productive members of society, in part, due to his efforts and for that we are grateful.”
Hillgrove principal, Angela Stewart agreed: “We respect his sacrifice that was embedded with a genuine love for Hawk Basketball,” she said proudly. “He is still an awesome math teacher with us and we are happy that he is dedicated to Hillgrove’s Deliberate Success!”
“Coach Morris has tremendous respect from the coaching community,” said Coach Gorsuch. “Not only for his record, but the way he ran his program. On top of being a great coach, Coach Morris is an even better person.”