Wando baseball coach Jeff Blankenship, who led the Warriors to five successful seasons and an appearance in the Class AAAA state championship series in 2009, has decided to step down as coach.
"Five years ago, I was promoted to my dream job as head baseball coach at Wando High School and the experience has been incredible," Blankenship said in a statement released by the school. "The support that principal Lucy Beckham, athletic director Bob Hayes, and the Wando faculty and staff have shown the baseball program has been tremendous.
"Ultimately, I have made this decision to focus on my family and career as an educator," said Blankenship, who has a 1-year-old son. " My wife Jennifer and my son Jake mean everything to me and I look forward to spending more time with my family. Professionally, my goal is to be an advocate of opportunities for our high school students as I continue in the field of education. My time as a baseball coach at Wando High School will always be important to me."
Blankenship posted a 135-24 record in his five years as the head coach of the Warriors, leading Wando to four appearances in the Lower State championship series.
This spring, his team was ranked No. 1 in the state all season and was ranked as high as No. 3 nationally. But White Knoll ousted the Warriors from the playoffs, winning two games against the Warriors on May 7. The Warriors finished the 2010 season with a 28-4 record.
"I have been fortunate to coach many outstanding young men over the past five years," Blankenship said. "Some I will be able to continue to follow in the sports pages for years to come while others are now graduating from college and entering the professional world. Hopefully, our players have learned as much from this coaching staff as we have learned from them."
Hayes indicated that Blankenship will remain at Wando as a teacher.
"Coach Blankenship has been an integral part of our athletic department for the last nine years," he said. "The last five years, he served as head coach of our baseball program and took our program to the highest levels of success. More importantly he taught the players about integrity and taking pride in everything they do. His decision to step down is met with mixed emotions as we lose an outstanding leader of our baseball program, but understand and support his commitment to his family and his role as an educator."
Blankenship is a native of Matthews, N.C., and a graduate of the College of Charleston, where he played baseball. He earned a Masters in Educational Leadership from the Citadel in 2008.
Hayes said the school will begin advertising the job immediately.
Reach Philip M. Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5592.