Shaw Principal Jim Arnold has known that this day was coming for a while.
He and athletic director Debbie Ball discussed the future so that Shaw would be as prepared as possible.
That day has finally come as Ball has decided to retire from the Muscogee County School District at the end of the year. She will leave Shaw at the end of the school year.
But she won’t completely retire as she has accepted a physical education position at Brookstone. Ball, who developed Shaw into a perennial playoff team in softball, will also oversee the Brookstone softball program.
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“You can’t replace Debbie Ball,” Arnold said. “We have started to put some people in place both in the physical education department and athletic department. She has a set a level of expectation, and we are going to continue to follow it.”
Ball became the first female athletic director in the Muscogee County School District when she took over for Charles Flowers in January 2006.
Ball, who has coached almost every sport, including wrestling this winter, will attempt reenergize the Brookstone softball program, which didn’t field a team this fall. Brookstone athletic director Todd Stanfill said he doesn’t know whether they’ll field a varsity, junior varsity or middle school team in the fall. He plans to discuss that with Ball before making a decision.
“We were disappointed when we weren’t able to field a team,” Stanfill said. “Combining that with our long-term softball goals, we approached Debbie about an opportunity. We knew we had some rebuilding to do, and we wanted the best person out there. ... She is the best coach in the state.”
Arnold said Shaw’s next athletic director and softball coach will likely come from an internal candidate.
Ball, who is fully vested in the state retirement system, decided it was the right time to make the move.
“I’ve known for a few years that this was possible,” Arnold said. “It was only a matter of time before someone was going to make an offer to her that would benefit her financially. We have a lot of teachers that leave to go Smiths Station or somewhere else after they retire. ... It’s a great thing financially for someone late in their career.”