CAMILLA — Westwood Schools athletic director and head boys basketball coach Gordy Gruhl announced Wednesday afternoon that he would be retiring at the end of this school year.

Gruhl took over the athletic programs at Westwood three years ago after an extended run at Deerfield-Windsor School in Albany.

“A long time ago I asked the good Lord to let me know when it was time,” Gruhl said Wednesday, “and now is the time. It’s never been a job to me. It’s been a great way to live life, but now it’s time. It has never been a job to me and it has become more of a job. Coaching is a real grind and now there is so much more going on that you have to deal with.”

Gruhl began his 47-year career at now-defunct Worth Academy in Sylvester. After Worth Academy, he moved to Edmund-Burke Academy in Waynesboro before coming to Albany to take his longtime position at Deerfield-Windsor.

In his 47 years, Gruhl has built a record of 1,143 wins with 389 losses, captured 28 region titles, and seven state championships — five with boys and two with the girls.

“When you start out coaching you think it’s all about wins and losses,” Gruhl said. “But at this point, you realize it’s about the lives you affect and change. There are few things in this world that mean more than a former player and student coming and telling you how you affected their lives and helping them become who they are in life and help them build a successful life. That is just priceless.”

“Sports is really a microcosm of life,” the coach continued. “If you learn the things you need in sports like how to compete, how to handle success and defeat and all the things that go along with that, it helps you build a successful life. That’s what it’s all about.”

Gruhl said all of his teams were special but a couple of teams that stand out are his last state championship from Deerfield-Windsor in 2015 when no one expected the Knights to win and the girls’ 1998 state championship, which was his first for the girls. The Lady Knights were 25-0 that season.

“Every team was different. Every team was special,” he said. “I just love all of the players and the effort they made to make us better. And for them to come back to me and tell me what a difference I made, that’s what is so special.”

Gruhl and his wife Meredith have future plans to move near Fayette County to be near their children and grandchild. However, Meredith Gruhl is planning to continue at Deerfield-Windsor for the near future. She is not ready to retire just yet.

There has not been any discussion of a replacement at this time. Gruhl was speaking to his team Wednesday afternoon.

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