GREENVILLE - Longtime lady's track coach Rhett Moss is leaving the program at J.L. Mann at the end of the current season, but he will remain the school's JROTC instructor and help the new girls' track coach transition into the program.
"After talking with my wife, we both decided that I would finish this year and that would be it," the 65-year-old Moss recently told scrunners.com. "My body isn't what it once was."
Moss is retired military, having served 18 years in the U.S Army and two years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has taught and coached at Mann since 1994, starting as an assistant football coach before moving over to track and field.
Video: Mann coach reflects on sport
"I had the boys for a year, then moved over to coach the girls track and field," the Edgefield native said, a move that has produced 11 state titles for the lady Patriots, plus two boys state championships. J.L. Mann also grabbed 15 Greenville County track and field championships under Moss, who has also been honored 12 times as state Coach of the Year.
This year's Lady Patriots include a couple of top individual performances. Senior Kelsey Heyward has the best time so far this season in the 100-meter hurdles and the girls have turned in the top performances in both the 800-meter sprint medley relay and the 4x200 meters.
Senior Hilary Harris also has turned in the best throw this season in the discus.
Moss, who was inducted into the SCTCCCA Hall of Fame in 2013, said he would miss the experience of watching the athletes he has coached move up to the next level and beyond.
"The main thing I'll miss is seeing these girls go on to college and working hard to do that," he said.
Moss said he looks forward to having a little more free time once he retires from coaching track and field.
"It takes a lot of time to get a program to where J.L. Mann is right now," he said.
Video: Athletes, coach share memories of Mann coach
Moss played basketball in college and coached Mann's running backs in his early years there, and that was the extent of his coaching experience when he was asked about possibly heading up the track and field program.
"I was asked what I felt I could do to help the girls compete," Moss said. "I told him I felt like the girls could win a state championship."
Moss said he drew on the expertise of others, as well as his own initiative to build the girls program and follow through on that earlier championship pledge.
"It was a process. I had a lot of people to help me along the way," he said, including attendance at several courses at USC on "the science" of the sport.
"It went from there," Moss said.
Moss, who received the Bronze Star for his service during the war in Iraq, said he hopes to remain in Mann's JROTC program for "a couple more years."