Varner announced recently that he would be stepping aside to spend more time with his growing family. With 4-year old daughter Addie Anne and 7-week-old son Brandt at home, it made a difficult decision a little easier to handle.
“I got into coaching to mentor kids,” said Varner, who will remain the school’s boys golf coach. “But I also got into it to share it with my family. Unfortunately, when you play games that tip off at 7:30 p.m., they can’t be there to see them. I think they have been able to see four games all year.”
Varner said he and his wife, Amanda, had made the decision for him to step down before their son was born.
In five years as Mount Paran’s coach, Varner led the team to an 86-51 record, but it was two years into his tenure when they finally began to take off. Over the last three seasons, the Eagles were 63-22 with two 20-win campaigns.
Varner’s best team was just last season, when the Eagles — led by Armani Moore, now a freshman at Tennessee — went 24-6 and advanced to the round of 16 in the Class A state playoffs.
This year, Mount Paran finished with an 18-9 record, losing to archrival North Cobb Christian last Saturday in the first round of the Class A private-school playoffs.
North Cobb Christian coach Greg Matta is sorry Varner won’t be on the sidelines next season.
“He gets the most out of his kids, because they believe in him,” Matta said. “(His teams) were always prepared, and he was always looking for ways to take (your team) out of your game.”
For Mount Paran girls coach Theresa Gernatt, not having Varner around every day will be leave her team without one of its biggest supporters.
“As a colleague, knowing he was one of the girls team’s biggest fans was a boost to me and them,” she said. “He’s a great mentor to so many kids on our campus.”
Varner said he has no intention of leaving Mount Paran, and he would not rule out returning to the basketball team sometime in the future, when his children grow older.
Varner said he’s not sure what will happen in the basketball program’s immediate future, but he hopes a new coach can continue to build on the foundation he has set.
“These are a great group of kids,” Varner said. “They work as hard, or harder, than anybody else. I could not be prouder of this team.”
Varner has been told that there are already more than 70 applicants for the position. To him, it’s a testament to the kids and the school.
“Mount Paran is a great place,” Varner said. “It’s easy to see why people want to be here.”