Arnold losing boys hoops coach to college job

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 10:47 AM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -Arnold boys basketball coach Josh Laatsch is moving on from that job and accepting an assistant coaching job with Lee University’s program in Cleveland, Tennessee. The coach telling us of that move early Wednesday morning.

Coach Laatsch has led the Marlins boys program the last three seasons, and has made it very competitive, despite what from the outside, might look like a losing record of 26-51. The team improved dramatically after his first season at the helm, a 5-20 mark in 2019-2020.

In moving to Lee, Josh will coach alongside his brother Jason, who earlier this month accepted the top assistant job at Lee. Josh telling me Wednesday he wasn’t looking for a job, but getting the chance to reunite with his brother, and to coach under Bubba Smith, he coach Josh says he has great admiration for, was too good an offer to pass on.

’“And again a man of faith, I always know as I was growing up there is a reason for everything and God has a plan and a purpose for my life. And sometimes it comes out of left field. Sometimes you don’t see it. And just stepping out in faith and trying to pursue this opportunity as it comes. And just a fact that there’s personal ties, you know knowing the head coach, knowing my brother who I will be working with. It’s special. and it’s in the league that I played in for my time at West Florida so it will be familiar. It will be the level that I’m used to. It’s not every day that people get this opportunity. But I’m very humbled, very humbled and excited to have this chance. Very grateful for Lee and Coach Smith for taking a chance on me.”

Josh is familiar with Lee, having played against it while he was a player at the University of West Florida.

The coach telling me the toughest part with this move is leaving his players. “You know you get into the education business to make an impact. And to love on these kids. Who some might not see it ever. And I know I’ve had a good experience with coaches in my life. Who’ve touched me and impacted me. And just their reaction was really hard. You know you could just see the hearts break. But in the long run I know that’s a positive reaction because I know that I’ve at least been a bit of a part, I’ve touched them a little bit by how they responded. It’s hard to know that you are the cause of their heartbreak. But at the end it’s comforting to me because I know I’ve been able to touch a couple of these kids lives it’s something I’ll cherish forever.”

A.D. Rick Green telling me Wednesday “When Josh told me of this move I said ‘I’m sad for us, but tickled to death for you!” Green added “He’s a wonderful coach, works harder than anyone I’ve seen in the basketball world. He brought our program to respectability. He’s a man of faith, and says God put it in my heart to do this.” Green saying Josh told him “I didn’t even think about being a college coach.” Again Green says “Happy for him, sad for us.”

With the start of the school year right around the corner, Green is already working on Josh’s replacement, saying “I learned the lesson years ago to always keep a list of candidates. So right now we’re working to find the right candidate to keep the program going forward and that’s something we’ll do. There is a right candidate out there for AHS and we’ll be working hard to put somebody in place in the next week or so.”

Josh will coach the team through its final week of summer practice this week before heading north.

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