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Grace Academy has hired new baseball and volleyball coaches for the coming school year. Former Central High all-state pitcher Cliff Morgan will take over the Golden Eagles baseball program, and Laurie McGinley is the school's new volleyball coach.

"I've always dreamed of being a high school coach," Morgan said. "I'm really excited about the opportunity. There's a big challenge ahead of us, but I've got a chance to put my thumbprint on a program, and that's all you can ask for.

"When my daughter started going to Grace, our whole family fell in love with the school. Once the head coaching job came open, I knew I wanted it, and I can't wait to get started."

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Morgan has been an assistant at his alma mater the past seven seasons, helping coach 11 all-district pitchers for the Purple Pounders. He was also the Grace Academy middle school coach last season.

He played for legendary Central coach Gene Lively, earning all-state, all-region and all-district honors each of his final three seasons. He set school records for wins, earned run average and strikeouts and was named the Best of Preps Wirt Gammon Award winner.

He was drafted by the Brewers in 1996 but went on to play at Okaloosa-Walton Community College, Cleveland State and Lee University.

"I've been at Central my whole life and was fortunate to learn from some really good coaches," Morgan added. "I am grateful to Coach (Glen) Carter for bringing me on the staff as an assistant. I learned a lot about how to run a program there, and now we get to go out and try to build our brand of baseball.

"There are so many established programs in (TSSAA) Division II who have been to the state tournament, so there's a lot of great competition. But there are a lot of really talented players in our area, and we have to get those kids to want to come to our program."

Prior to coming to Grace, McGinley spent nine years coaching volleyball for several high schools and club teams in the Knoxville and Chattanooga areas.

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.

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