After spending 13 years with East Lake High School, Mike Estes has decided to try his hand coaching at the next level.
Estes officially announced his departure from the school on Tuesday, leaving to take an assistant coaching position at Eckerd College.
“I’ve always wanted to coach at the college level and this opportunity came up,” he said over the phone Tuesday. “It’s going to be a pretty good challenge. Obviously I hate to leave East Lake, but I have a lot of good memories there and there is a great future there with softball and volleyball.”
Along with coaching Eagles softball for 13 years – the first six as an assistant and final seven as head coach – Estes also led the school’s volleyball program for the past two seasons.
During his time at East Lake, Estes led the Eagles to back-to-back state final four appearances in 2010 and 2011 on the softball diamond and the second of the volleyball team’s back-to-back state championships in 2012.
Estes said he’ll miss the opportunity to help develop high school student-athletes, but looks forward to the challenge of doing the same at the next stage in his players’ lives.
“It was the toughest decision I ever had to make,” he said. “It took me a couple weeks. I just had to think about it and realize what I'm trying to do.”
Estes’ primary role at Eckerd will be as the Tritons’ pitching coach.
Eckerd is a Division II softball program and competes in the Sunshine State Conference. The Tritons have never finished at or above .500 in their 29 seasons, but Eckerd’s 19-37 record last season was its best in the past four years.
“This is going to be a good challenge and I get a chance to go into a program that’s getting better,” Estes said.