ALBANY -- Sherwood Christian Academy's athletic department suddenly seems to be going through an overhaul as three of its top positions are changing.
The exodus at Sherwood -- which started earlier this week when The Herald first reported that football coach Reggie Mitchell is leaving to take an assistant's job at Tift County -- continued Thursday when The Herald learned that Lee County Parks and Recreation Director Eddie Dixon is leaving his job in Leesburg to take over as the Eagles' athletic director and baseball coach. Also, boys basketball coach Gavin Felix told The Herald via telephone Thursday that he, too, is leaving. SCA headmaster Glen Schultz, when reached by The Herald on Thursday, had no comment, but added the school would be "making an announcement" related to athletics this afternoon.
Dixon will replace SCA A.D. and baseball coach Alan McWilliams, who is leaving his posts at the end of the school year. McWilliams did not return calls to The Herald on Thursday.
Dixon said he is excited about his new position.
"In my business life, this is the hardest decision I've ever had to make," Dixon said. "The Lee County commissioners have been extremely good to me, and so have the people of Lee County. But in the end I decided to do what was best for me and my family.''
Dixon then added: "I'm very excited about the opportunity to get back into athletics and especially baseball. It's what I'm passionate about; I've really missed it."
Before his nine-year tenure with the Lee Parks and Recreation Department, Dixon played professional baseball in the Montreal, Pittsburgh, Houston, San Diego and Cincinnati organizations. He scouted for the San Diego Padres for three years and served as general manager of the Albany Alligators semi-pro team for three more. He also coached baseball at Sherwood's biggest rival, Deerfield-Windsor School, for four years.
Dixon said his primary goal now is to make Sherwood an athletic "powerhouse."
"It's going to take some time to build things, but I think we can turn the athletic program around," he said. "I want to help our athletes become some of the best Christian athletes in the Southeast. I want Sherwood to become a powerhouse in the state."
Lee County Administrator Tony Massey said Dixon's move is a "positive" one for the county.
"We hate to lose Eddie, but there is no negative associated with this move," Massey said. "He just felt it was a good opportunity for his family. Everyone here wishes him well."
Massey said Dixon will remain with the Parks and Recreation Department until June. He said the county will advertise the job "internally and externally" soon. The position pays between $50,000 and $80,000 annually.
"I think the department will be in good hands," Dixon said. "I pray the county will give every consideration to (assistant director) Jeremy Morey because he would do an outstanding job. We don't have a huge staff, but those guys go over and beyond what's expected of them. They get after it."
Dixon will have to fill two big positions in football and basketball, although sources told The Herald earlier this week that the Eagles' new football coach will be current assistant Otis Covington. SCA is coming off a 6-5 season in football, while Felix's basketball team produced the best record in Sherwood history at 23-4.
Felix told The Herald on Thursday he is leaving SCA to take the head coaching job at Coral Springs Christian Academy in South Florida. He leaves the school after just one season -- albeit a hugely successful one -- and is departing with some lingering thoughts about his time at SCA after battling what he called misconceptions.
"I don't know if it was the parents or people in the community, but there have been a lot of things said about me that just weren't true,'' Felix said. "Within the community there were perceptions of me that were not true. People said I didn't like the city. They said I didn't like the church and I didn't like the school and I didn't like the kids. None of those things are true. I love the church and the message of the church.''
Felix added that what bothered him most was that no one confronted him or approached him about the perceptions.
"Nobody wanted to talk to me about it,'' he said. "I was really looking forward to next year, but some of the perceptions of me were terrible. Rather than being a superhero and fight everything off, I had a chance to go back home. I'm really blessed to have this opportunity.''
Since he grew up in Coral Springs, a suburb of Miami in Broward County, and graduated from Coral Springs High School, the move back to South Florida is a natural for Felix, who had success coaching at a private school in New Orleans before coming to Albany.
"I know everyone there,'' he said. "It's a chance to go back home.''