Floyd Mathews’ dig through his old file cabinets and long-filled closets at Sidney Lanier High netted an unexpected find.
A commemorative license plate the Poets sold to celebrate their 2001 boys basketball state championship forced Mathews, the team’s longtime coach, to pause.
Mathews has reason to reflect.
The 62-year-old is retiring after 20 years as Lanier’s boys basketball coach, 28 years at the school and a 38-year career.
“All of this brings back memories of a lot of people, a lot of players and player’s parents that did so much for this program, people I’ve come in contact with and remember very fondly,” Mathews said Tuesday.
“I’ve been blessed to have so many talented players,” Mathews said. “All of them were special to me.”
Mathews said he decided just last week to retire, a move that may come as a surprise to some of his players. Some had already begun their summer, and Mathews said he didn’t have time to properly inform them all.
“I regret that, but I didn’t decide until the last minute,” Mathews said. “School was out, and I didn’t have a chance.”
Mathews won 380 games and two state championships over a 25-year head coaching career at St. Jude and Lanier.
A 1969 St. Jude graduate, Mathews coached the Pirates to the 1985 Class 2A championship. He was 48-79 in five years as St. Jude’s head coach and worked at the school for 10 years.
Mathews came to Lanier in the fall of 1985 as the boys track and field coach and an assistant football coach. He soon was an assistant to basketball coach John Bricken and succeeded Bricken in 1993.
In 20 years leading the Poets, Mathews was 332-236 with three regional titles and the 2001 state championship.
“You don’t think it will come to an end, but when that time comes, it comes,” Mathews said. “Sometimes you’re not aware of it, and sometimes you have that feeling. Right now, it just seems like another part of life.
“Life is like that.”