Hilton Head Island High School boys lacrosse coach Joe Monmonier waited until the last minute Friday afternoon to tell his players he was no longer their coach.
"In case it didn't happen," said Monmonier. "It's not like I'm completely leaving the school, I'll still be here."
That's because Monmonier has been named Hilton Head Island High School's new athletics director. He was hired Thursday after being the final candidate to interview with Beaufort County Schools superintendent Valerie Truesdale.
Monmonier, who replaces outgoing athletics director Mark Karen, who resigned May 31, will relinquish his duties as the Seahawks' boys lacrosse coach.
"It's bittersweet," Monmonier said. "I spent six years here building the program, and it continues to build. I've got some good assistants here, it's a very attractive job and I don't foresee having a problem finding a replacement as good or better than me."
"I feel really excited about (the hire)," Hilton Head High principal Amanda O'Nan said. "He's a wonderful member of our leadership team."
Though the school hired from within, O'Nan said the search was broad and candidates from as far as Michigan and Florida were interviewed.
"He interviewed the best and had the best qualities and seemed like the best man for the job," O'Nan said.
While she said Monmonier would leave some big shoes to fill at the helm of the boys lacrosse team, there was no thought given to allowing him to hold both jobs.
"I don't see how you can effectively run an athletic department and be a successful coach at the same time," Nan said. "At this moment it will have to be two separate positions."
O'Nan said she thought Monmonier was interested in the job when it was open last summer but didn't apply.
"I think the difference between now and then was confidence. Being here long enough, I felt more confident in my position," said Monmonier, who was also going through the process of adopting his daughter last summer. "I thought, 'Do we need someone coming in from the outside? Do we need to have this revolving door?' Knowing the nuances, the athletes, the teachers, the community, I just kind of felt like it was my time. I'm ready. I know I'm ready. I feel like I've proven myself."
Monmonier has been at Hilton Head High since August 2006 and has a record of 58-30-1 in six seasons, leading the Seahawks to two Lower State finals appearances. According to the high school, he has coached four U.S. Lacrosse all-Americans, 15 first-team all-state players and six of his players have received full scholarships to play lacrosse in college.
But foremost, Monmonier says he's a teacher.
"Six years in the classroom," he said.
As a teacher, Monmonier is the special education department head at Hilton Head High. He received his bachelor's degree from Limestone College in Gaffney and his Master of Arts in Teaching from Towson (Md.).
Asked about any friction in the past between the athletics director position and the district, Monmonier said he doesn't know why things didn't work out with Karen at Hilton Head High, but he knows, "Mark did a lot of great things in the short time he was here."
With coaching vacancies for both the lacrosse programs looming, Monmonier says he'll likely get started even before his official start date of July 23.
But his first order of business involves another recent hire at Hilton Head High -- head football coach B.J. Payne.
"I'm worried about the field that they're re-turfing right now," Monmonier said. "Giving Coach Payne a great start for the season, making sure he has what he needs to be successful, making sure student-athletes and coaches have what they need to find success on the field and in the classroom. That's what I'll be all about.''
Follow sports editor Mike McCombs at twitter.com/IPBGSports.