Being a head coach takes a lot of sacrifices.
Buchholz boys basketball coach Blake Golden has been coaching his alma mater for the last two years, while living in Orlando.
During the week when he wasn’t traveling to Gainesville he would have to be on the road for his current job.
His wife traveled a lot too, “so we’re kind of passing in the night.”
There’s one thing Golden didn’t have.
“A lot of time,” said Golden, who announced to his team on Tuesday afternoon that he was stepping down after two seasons. “The travel was a part of it.”
The commute, which he makes two to three times per week from Orlando to Gainesville, was limiting his time with his players, particularly during the offseason.
“I didn’t want to take away from the boys,” Golden said. “In the offseason I got to talk to them outside of basketball, going to tournaments, and I don’t know if I was giving those guys everything they need. I want to a better husband as well.”
In his final game as head coach, the Bobcats advanced to the Class 6A-District 2 championship game. However, GHS held off a furious Buchholz comeback that fell short, 59-55, and ended the Bobcats’ second season at 13-14.
Buchholz played a tough schedule this past year which included wins against 6A regional quarterfinalist Forest (Ocala), 5A state semifinalist Jones (Orlando), 5A regional finalist Columbia (Lake City), 4A regional finalist Santa Fe (Alachua), 1A state champion Williston and 1A state semifinalist Hawthorne.
“I thought the Jones win was a big one because they beat us (by 19) the year before,” Golden said. “It validated our guys and gave them confidence. I thought that was the biggest one of the year.”
Being an alum, he will always cherish the wins against rivals Eastside and Gainesville during the 2021-22 season.
The Bobcats broke an eight-game losing streak to Eastside in front of a capacity crowd in Dec. 2021.
They beat GHS for just the second time in the past 16 outings the following month. GHS transfer Daryus Boyd scored a career-high 31 points to lead the Bobcats to a 57-55 win in overtime.
Despite a 25-27 overall record, Golden and the Bobcats earned some respect during his two-year reign.
“We got the program where people don’t want to play us anymore,” Golden said. “We scheduled tough and our boys bought in and there was a great vibe going around. It’s in a great place and moment at this time.”
Golden broke the news to his team on Tuesday afternoon and also had conversations with families that he had relationships with.
“There were some long faces,” he said. “Hopefully I affected the team in a positive way. The program will be in good hands. I think they appreciate me talking to them. Sometimes you have to have some tough conversations and that’s what today was.”
Golden didn’t say he would never coach again, but he did state he would “take a year off and evaluate.”
This is the second big hire that first-year Buchholz Athletics Director Ron Brooks will have to make this current school year.
In December, Buchholz football coach Mark Whittemore stepped down after 11 seasons and Brooks immediately hired alum Chuck Bell.