E.A. Sports Today

‘I’m hurt’

Budget cuts leave Pleasant Valley’s Morris awaiting what’s next after he earned All-Calhoun County coach of the year for 1A-3A girls’ basketball

Cover photo: Former Pleasant Valley girls’ basketball coach Colton Morris consoles players after their loss in the Northeast Regional in February. (Photo by Krista Larkin)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

Colton Morris now knows what it’s like to be his county’s coach of the year yet wonder what’s next in his workaday world. 

He also knows what it’s like to feel separated from paradise.

Morris, who served as Pleasant Valley High School’s head varsity girls’ basketball coach the past three seasons and served as a volunteer coach across several sports for eight years before that, will no longer coach for his alma mater, he confirmed Tuesday.

He remains employed in the Calhoun County system, having been told he’ll be “moved” after his current job teaching history at the alternative school goes away in budget cuts.

Being moved, however, means the 2008 Pleasant Valley graduate will no longer be able to coach at Pleasant Valley.

Morris learned of the pending cuts from Pleasant Valley principal Laura Knighton on March 24. He met with Calhoun County superintendent Dr. Jose Reyes on Monday.

Morris stressed that the move is business and “not personal.”

It still hurts.

“I’m hurt that I don’t get to coach those girls,” he said Tuesday, before helping to coach Pleasant Valley’s softball team in the Calhoun County tournament. “I’ve invested so much time into them. We built a culture that we felt like was sustainable, and we could be competitive from here on out. For them, for their sake, they’re going to have to go through another rebuilding cycle with somebody else. 

“I just hope and pray that, whoever that is, they take care of it. I don’t want somebody to get it that don’t care about them.”

The change for Morris comes as his fifth-grade daughter, Emeriegh, stands two years away from reaching varsity eligibility.

Morris took over for Brad Hood when Hood became the boys’ head coach before the 2020-21 season. Morris took over a team that suffered significant graduation losses, and his teams went 9-16 to 16-9 from his first season to his second.

The Raiders finished 20-7 this past season and made their fourth Northeast Regional appearance and first since 2016. Morris was selected as East Alabama Sports Today’s Class 1A-3A All-Calhoun County coach of the year for girls’ basketball.

“Even if I hadn’t gotten that, just watching the program from year one … every year, it’s grown a little bit more and a little bit more,” he said. 

He said being moved out of that position “sort of caught me off guard, to be honest with you, and I think it caught a lot of people off guard.

“At the end of the day, we all sort of realize the business we’re in. Usually, if you take care of your business and do the right things, which we always did, you know, you’re OK, but I understand it’s a business decision. I guess it’s just part of the territory.”

After graduating from Pleasant Valley, Morris attended Jacksonville State University. He coached at Ragland and Gadsden City before returning home and volunteering in several sports.

When the county system hired him in 2020, Hood asked him if he preferred to take over the boys’ or girls’ team. Morris said he chose the girls because he enjoys coaching girls, and he might get to coach his daughter.

Whether he will coach elsewhere in the county system, and at what school that might be, remains to be determined.

Pleasant Valley “is my community,” he said. “Obviously, I love my community. I love being there. I love getting to spend that extra time with my kid that I hadn’t got in years past elsewhere.

“I hope the program keeps getting better every year, but it hurts. It hurts to not be there. I don’t really have the words to say it, to be honest.”

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