Lanett Coach Chip Seagle calls it a career after 40 years

Published 5:54 pm Thursday, May 16, 2024

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Several names have been synonymous with Lanett football for nearly two decades. Chip Seagle has been one of those names, but now Seagle is hanging up his whistle and calling it a career. 

Seagle’s 40-year coaching career came to an end on Thursday as he addressed the Lanett Panthers after practice. Seagle started at Lanett in 2009 and served as an assistant coach under Clifford Story. 

While at Lanett, Seagle helped the Panthers claim state championships in 2017 and 2019. Seagle spent three seasons away from Lanett before taking over as head coach after Story stepped down in 2023. 

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Health issues over the past few months started to make Seagle question his future in coaching long-term, and those issues ultimately led to his retirement on Thursday. 

“Health issues, and just being able to go full speed,” Seagle said. “I’m not going to do anything half-[butt] ever. The kids deserve 100%.”
Seagle was one of the first coaches Story hired when he became Lanett’s head coach in 2009. Lanett quickly became Seagle’s home. 

Getting to finish out his career as a Panther was special for Seagle to say the least. Seagle got to lead the Panthers and spend time with the coaches and community that became his family over the past decade and a half. 

“That was special,” Seagle said. “We talked about it for two years, and it just didn’t work out for one reason or another. Life gets in the way sometimes. It was just like God knew what he was doing. He worked it out when I came down, coach Story stepped down and it allowed me to finish at my beloved high school.” 

“I feel like I went to school here,” a choked-up Seagle said. “From 2009 until now, I spent more time here than I did at any school I’ve ever been at. A major part of me is dying today because it’s like a death in the family. This has been my life for 40 years. This has been my life for 52 years.” 

Seagle had several other stops along the way. He coached at Gaston, Louisville, Goshen, Muscle Shoals, Carroll-Ozark, Smiths Station and several other schools. 

Despite announcing his retirement on Thursday, Seagle is not done giving back to the sport. Seagle already has plans to do several clinics focusing on smaller schools, and he will continue his coaching YouTube channel and potentially do a podcast in the future. 

Ultimately, it is impossible for Seagle to completely remove football from his life. It’s who he is, and Seagle will continue breathing the sport in retirement. 

“It was very important to keep football a part of my life,” Seagle said. “It’s all I know. That made it easier. I may have stayed on if I didn’t have that outlet… When I was laid up, hooked up to all that stuff, I just said I can’t do this to my wife anymore.” 

Seagle made several tight bonds throughout his 40-year career, but few come close to the relationship he built with Clifford Story. 

The pair worked side-by-side as they led the Panthers to some of the best seasons in school history. Seagle believes that working for Story was a major shift in his coaching career and personal life. The two changed each other for the better. 

“Lanett,” Seagle said about what he’s most proud of. “It’s like everything I did up until 2009 was building towards this. God had a plan that a kid that I saw playing B-team basketball, playing for LaFayette back in 1988, one day I’d be working for him. I was coaching for Louisville when he was a ninth grader or a tenth grader at LaFayette. Little did I know that 30 years later I’d be working for that kid, and he changed my life for the better.” 

Seagle left a huge impact on Lanett with his retirement on Thursday. Seagle helped and saw several athletes go on to play collegiately during his tenure. 

Charlie Williams has served alongside Seagle throughout his career as the two were both hired at Lanett in 2009. Williams is currently the defensive coordinator for the Panthers, and he knows that Seagle had a huge impact on Lanett’s success. 

“We came in together. The first two coaches coach Story hired was me and coach Seagle,” Williams said. “When you’re coaching, it’s not just coaching with a guy, it’s a brotherhood. It’s a family. He’s been like a big brother to me because he’s so knowledgeable of the game. He’s taught me so much of his offensive knowledge that helps me on the defensive side of the ball. He’s going to be missed. Make no mistake about it.” 

Lanett will now begin a coaching search for the second time in two years. The Panthers are expecting to move quickly with the search.