Randy Pope, a longtime baseball coach at West Forsyth and Forsyth Country Day, has decided to retire after 38 years.
Pope, 58, graduated from Ledford in 1979 and later coached there for two years. He played baseball at Western Carolina, later returning a graduate assistant. He coached five years at East Davidson before coming to West Forsyth in 1999.
While coaching the Titans for 15 years he compiled a record of 293-107. He left after the 2013 season and was an assistant at Guilford College before becoming the coach at FCD in 2015, where he had a record of 63-45.
“Just ready,” Pope said of his decision to retire. “Nothing in particular. My last five years at FCDS was a great gig, but it’s just time to do something different.”
FCD finished this past season 11-4 and was the No. 3 seed in the NCISAA Class 3-A playoffs before losing in the semifinals to No. 2 Carmel Christian.
“That don’t hurt, obviously,” Pope said of leaving on a winning note. “It was, like I said, 38 years. My wife’s retiring. We’ll travel some. I’d like to go see some college games, some other high schools, go watch them play. It’s just time to do something different.”
The Furies had five coaches in the five previous years before Pope was hired, so it wanted some stability. Even though John Stubblefield has only been the athletics director there for one year, he’s proud of what Pope accomplished.
“It wasn’t a total shock,” Stubblefield said. “He got his 350th win. That was a big milestone for him. I think he was at a point where he was just looking to do some other things in life, and take a break and set back and rejoice, enjoy things. He’s been great for the Forsyth Country Day School Community.”
Pope and the Furies just topped off the season with a high honor.
“He actually just won our coaching award for coach of the year, the Jim Tobias Award is what it’s called here, but that was given out (last) Monday night,” Stubblefield said. “I think it’s kind of a fitting culmination to his 38 years of coaching.”
Under Pope, West Forsyth reached the NCHSAA Class 4-A best-of-three state-championship series in 2002 and was swept by Fuquay-Varina. Pope left after the 2013 season, and his former player and assistant, Brad Bullard, took over and helped lead the Titans to the state championship in 2014, defeating Richmond Senior in three games.
“Obviously, you want to have a state championship, but no regrets,” Pope said. “Brad, who played for me and played in the state championship for me, was my successor, so happy for him, obviously.”
FCD wants to build off the stability and winning that Pope has brought to what was a struggling program.
“I think it just shows that we can have a successful program here,” Stubblefield said. “We do have a successful program. Success is kind of contagious. When kids start seeing it they want to be a part of it. They want to be around it.”
Pope has one piece of advice for whomever FCD hires to be his successor.
“Enjoy the journey,” he said. “... I think we made some major improvements on the field and hopefully left the program in a little bit better shape than I found it.”