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Randall Hackett will end his career in high school athletics the way it started: as an Eastern Guilford Wildcat.

The Eastern alumnus announced today that he will step down as athletics director at the end of July and retire from Guilford County Schools. Hackett, 51, will be succeeded by another Wildcat, 2002 Eastern graduate Jay White, who has been the school's head baseball coach since 2011.

Hackett, who took over as AD in January 2006 after serving as an assistant football and baseball coach at the school, said he was most proud of "being an Eastern Guilford Wildcat."

"I've been that all my life, outside of a short stint when I got into teaching for three years at Southeast Middle School. ... It's a home, and it's been a home for me since 1984 when I entered the ninth grade. I love the school and I love being a Wildcat. Anything that I've been able to do to serve and help others have that same experience and that same feeling is what I'm proud of."

One former athlete who shared that experience is White, who played baseball and football for Hackett and now succeeds him as AD.

"I coached his brother (Northeast Guilford baseball coach) Brad when I was right out of college myself," Hackett added. "Those are the blessings, when you see the kids and the families you've worked with come back and continue to have a major influence on others down the road."

During Hackett's tenure, the Wildcats won a state championship in girls outdoor track and field and reached state championship games in football and boys basketball, but he always remembered that high school athletics are about more than winning titles. "At the end of the year," Hackett said, "I want to hear every kid's name called as far as being a participant or a letterman in any sport."

After retiring from GCS, Hackett will embark on a second career as a regional sporting goods sales representative with Johnson-Lambe of Raleigh. What he will miss most about Eastern Guilford High School is "the people."

"The relationships develop and people really help you out," Hackett said. "I've been very blessed to have a lot of good people behind me who've helped me in a lot of different ways. It's also the relationships with kids and seeing their success, whether it's a major title or the daily improvement and becoming a better person."

Contact Joe Sirera at 336-373-7034, and follow @JoeSireraNR on Twitter.

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