DAWSONVILLE – The Dawson County community and the Tiger athletic program were shocked to learn about the death of Coach Jed Lacey Saturday morning, Aug. 13. Lacey died from injuries sustained in an early-morning automobile accident on GA 400.
The charismatic Lacey joined the Dawson County High athletic program in 2004 as the head girls’ soccer coach and assistant football coach. Lacey would eventually take over the boys’ soccer program a few years later.
Lacey transformed both Tiger soccer teams into competitive, consistently ranked programs, earning a combined 15 state-playoff appearances, three region championships, five region runner ups, and a pair of area runner up trophies. His players also earned regional awards – nine boys and girls were named the Blitz Sports Player-of-the-Year.
Throughout his coaching career, Lacey’s team accolades brought regional and state-wide attention, being named region coach of the year four times. He also was named NSCAA State of Georgia Girls Coach of the Year for small schools 2014.
Nevertheless, those accolades to Jed Lacey were just that – accolades. Lacey was more concerned about his student-athletes more than awards. This was evident in the out-pouring of love and respect from his current and former students on social media.
Not only did he impact the lives of his students, he did the same with the young coaches beginning their careers.
One of his coaching peers, Chess Hamby said it best.
“He taught me so much about life and really became like a big brother to me in coaching,” he said.
Lacey and Hamby always seemed to be side-by-side on the field, soccer or football. Hamby reflected on Saturday night about his early days with Coach Lacey.
“One of the first things he told me hit me the deepest,” Hamby said. “I was a first-year football coach and knew barely enough of the playbook to get by. We traveled up to Sonoraville for my first scrimmage as a hired coach. As we were walking out to take the field he said, ‘Chess, I know that you don’t understand what I’m about to say but you will eventually… right now, you’re coaching for yourself and that’s OK… but when you start coaching for the kids, you will become a great coach.'”
The community has shown an outpouring of love over the hours since the loss of Coach Lacey, including a prayer vigil held on Saturday evening.
“We are heartbroken over the death of Coach Lacey,” DCHS Principal Richard Crumley said. “He was an asset to our school. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and the entire community.”
The social media response extended beyond the students. Parents, colleagues; and the Tiger nation have all posted their feelings for Lacey on social media.
Lacey was lured to Dawson County by former Tiger Head Football Coach Jeff Lee to be an assistant. On Saturday, Lee said Lacey was a great friend.
“(He was) Just a loyal guy that had a passion for kids – a passion for success,” Lee said. “But what he was most proud of was that God had blessed him with a family. He was so proud of his Charlotte and Fallon.”
Lee talked about his dedication to the program.
“He was always there working to 4 a.m., washing clothes or doing whatever was needed,” Lee said. “He was like a member of my family. “It’s like a void in our family tonight.”
Another close friend and coaching peer was Steve Sweat, DCHS head girls’ basketball coach. Sweat was also an influence in helping to bring Lacey to Dawson. He first met Lacey when the two were at Berkmar High School. Lacey assisted Sweat as a basketball coach. The two would later join the athletic department at West Hall together.
“He was as good of a friend as you could have,” Sweat said. “My own two sons called him Uncle Jed. He loved the Lord, his family, his kids (players), and his school. He was one of the most dedicated coaches I have ever known. He was definitely one of a kind.”
Sweat also reflected on the influence he had on the school community.
“He was special to many people,” Sweat said. “His passion for life and everything he was involved in was unbelievable. I lost one of my best friends today.”
As for us at NGSL, we’ve also lost a great friend and supporter. Jed always supported our staff over the years with comments and the willingness to support our media outreach. Whether it was joking with us about a radio interview or just one of his funny comments. Coach Lacey seemed to be one of those coaches we gravitated to for a greeting, handshake or to hear his view on the event at hand.
We very rarely ever walked away from a conversation with Coach Lacey where he didn’t say, “Hey! Thanks for all you do.”
So we say to you, Jed … Hey! Thanks for ALL you did for Dawson County!