Dougherty County Athletic Director Johnny Seabrooks holds a framed portrait of himself given to him by the Dougherty County Middle School athletic directors Wednesday during a retirement ceremony at Monroe High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
Johnny Seabrooks' retirement ceremony
Dougherty County Athletic Director Johnny Seabrooks is honored at a retirement ceremony at Monroe High School, where the longtime AD and coach was congratulated for more than 40 years of service to Dougherty County. (Video by John Millikan)
ALBANY — A small tear streamed down the left cheek of Johnny Seabrooks.
The Dougherty County athletic director has been known to show some emotion, especially when athletes didn’t obey him. But he’s never been known to expose his softer side.
When the Dougherty County Middle School athletic directors presented Seabrooks with a large framed picture of himself at a retirement ceremony Wednesday afternoon in the Monroe High cafeteria, Seabrooks didn’t hold back.
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“That touched me,” said Seabrooks, who is officially retiring after 40 years in the school system. The longtime coach and athletic director said he still plans to be around to assist coaches and athletes.
The four high schools presented Seabrooks with plaques and awards, then Albany Middle School athletic director Dexter Malone addressed the audience.
“We thought, ‘What can we give coach Seabrooks?’ ” Malone said. “We could give him cigars, but he don’t need those. We could give him money, but he don’t need any of that either.
“Then I thought. Every time I go into coach Seabrooks’ office at Hugh Mills Stadium, I always see plaques and pictures, but never did I see a photo of coach Seabrooks himself.”
Then Malone handed the longtime athletic director a large portrait with a stadium underneath.
“For them to think that much of me and for everybody to come out and do this, I can’t explain it,” Seabrooks said. “It’s very emotional, and I don’t usually get emotional. It’s a surprise to know that people appreciate what you did because I never did it for anything. I did it because it was the right thing to do.”
Seabrooks became the Dougherty County athletic director in 2001 after coaching football and track & field at Monroe and Dougherty High for more than two decades. He became a legend at the position and has already been induted into four Hall of Fames within the state. The Monticello, Fla. native said Wednesday’s reception was not to say “good-bye.” Instead, he said it was more of “we’ll see you later.”
“I’ll always be a part of this system and whatever they need me to do,” Seabrooks said. “I can not leave these student-athletes and these coaches with a retirement. It’s a passion for me, it’s always been.”
Each speaker who stood behind the podium told their fondest memories. Monroe football coach Charles Truitt talked about him being a friend.
“When I called him, I always started out by saying, ‘Coach, I hate to bother you,’ ” Truitt said. “And he would always say that I wasn’t bothering him and that he worked for the coaches. It goes a long way to know you have someone to lean on when things are tough.”
Seabrooks, who always slides away from accolades, said he wanted to crawl under the table a few times.
“The people here (Wednesday) represent, I guess, what I have done,” Seabrooks said. “You don’t think about it, but then you hear the things they say, and it’s just heartwarming. It brings tears to your eyes.”