JASON Holcombe is brand new to Jackson County, but he feels something of a familiarity with the place nonetheless.
“It reminds me of what Gwinnett County was like when I was growing up – a growing area, not exactly a very high urban area like Gwinnet County is right now but a very booming area,” said Holcombe.
Seeing an area and school system ripe with opportunity, Holcombe has come up the I-85 corridor from North Gwinnett to Jackson County to serve as the Panthers’ new athletic director. His hiring as AD was made official at Monday night’s board of education meeting as he takes over for former AD Joe Lancaster, who will remain at the school as an assistant principal.
An assistant athletic director at North Gwinnett, Holcombe’s hiring comes two weeks before the start of fall athletics. He will also serve as an assistant principal.
“It’s exciting to be here,” Holcombe said. “I think there’s a lot of people out here who want to take Jackson County to that next step. I’m getting to know the coaching staff right now for my fall sports obviously.”
Holcombe’s résumé includes coaching stops at Cedar Shoals and Dacula prior to working at North Gwinnett.
He held a multitude of coaching titles while at Cedar Shoals – varsity running backs coach, JV head football coach, head wrestling coach and JV baseball coach – from 2001-2004. There, he started the Jaguar wrestling program.
Holcombe then served as head wrestling coach at Dacula from 2004-2010, while also coaching on the Falcons’ football staff from 2004-2008.
He moved onto the administrative side of athletics last year, serving as the assistant athletic director at North Gwinnett while also working as an assistant wrestling coach.
Holcombe became a candidate for the Jackson County AD job through some of his old bosses who had worked previously with new JCCHS principal Scott Smith.
“When Mr. Smith was contacting those individuals about the possibility of someone to interview, my name came up,” Holcombe said.
Holcombe actually wasn’t interviewing at the time but the phone rang one night and it was Smith.
“I came in for an interview and I was asked to come back for a second interview and here I am,” Holcombe said.
It’s been a lifelong goal for Holcombe to be an athletic director as he points to his passion toward building programs. That’s a passion he discovered upon starting the wrestling program at Cedar Shoals and then later at Dacula when he took over that program in the wake of that school’s split to form Mill Creek High School.
“I just fell in love with new places and getting to build and seeing kids thrive from working from the ground up – the blood and the sweat and the tears that you put into your programs,” he said. “You plant that seed so they can flourish and grow … Being able to do something on a total scale for a high school, it’s something that I fell in love with.”
Holcombe currently resides in Bethlehem. His wife, Amy, is the girls’ head tennis coach at Mountain View High School. The couple has a son, Jason Jr., and a daughter, Georgia Nicole. Holcombe attended Brookwood High School from 1994 to 1997, where he was a wrestling standout. He went on to Truett-McConnell and then the University of Georgia where he earned his undergrad in social science education. He holds a master’s degree from Walden University in educational technology and a specialist’s degree from Lincoln Memorial University in curriculum instruction.
Holcombe sees loads of potential at Jackson County as he starts his new job.
“The facilities are great,” he said. “I like where the facilities are going. I think we’re going to make some steps in that area hopefully and in that department as the future goes on. We’ve got a new softball coach (Chassie Laird). We’re excited to have her on board. (Head football) coach (Billy) Kirk is coming off an improved season from last year, and I’m excited about working with him and also getting to know the athletes and other coaches in the winter and spring sports and kind of moving forward from there.”