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Lambros returns to North

Retired North Davidson softball coach Mike Lambros is returning to continue coaching the Lady Knights team this year. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

North Davidson’s six-month search for a new softball coach concluded on Tuesday with a familiar name being called — Mike Lambros, the state’s all-time leader in victories.

Lambros, 60, retired last June with a 769-113 record in 33 seasons. The Black Knights went undefeated in 2010, winning the 4-A state and USA Today/NFCA national championships. They have won 29 conference championships under Lambros.

Now those numbers are once again present tense instead of past tense.

Under state retirement rules Lambros had to stay away for six months before he could have anything to do with the school again. After that time passed, North Principal Emily Lipe and co-athletic directors Mike Meadows and Mark Holcomb could formally consider bringing back Lambros.

“I was blessed that Mike and Emily and Mark gave me the opportunity,” Lambros said. “They hadn’t gotten someone yet and so when the opportunity was there, you know, you get excited. I’m a Black Knight. A lot of people would say, ‘why, you’re retired?’ My schedule is now pretty flexible. It’s been enjoyable but it’s in your blood and so I say ‘why not?’”

That’s pretty much how North’s administration felt.

“When Mike retired, we had to post the position on the North Carolina High School Association web site,” Meadows said. “We didn’t get any interest. We didn’t have a teaching position. The closer it got, coach Lambros had served his six months when he hadn’t been around the school. He still has a desire to coach and we needed a coach.

“We’d be crazy not to.”

With his record, Lambros would have figured to draw plenty of interest, especially in other states where he could double dip and he did get offers. But in the end he didn’t want to be anywhere else.

“I had several other avenues but this is an opportunity that is always in your heart,” Lambros said. “I am truly blessed and excited to do this because we did not know if this would be open and it’s a great opportunity to get back.”

The odds of Lambros returning were greatly increased when his former teaching position was filled by Kevin Gleiser, who came over from Reagan to coach football and track. Not having a teaching position to offer limited North’s options on landing another coach.

But the school only needed one.

“Oh sure,” Meadows said. “When he walked in the office, he was suntanned and thin. I think he’s enjoying his retirement. But he still has a little fire in his belly to coach. He’s done a great job on the field. I think everyone will be pleased.”

Lambros is thrilled to be picking up basically right from where he left off.

“It’s a yeah baby day when they meet with you and give you the opportunity to do something that you’ve done for a long time,” Lambros said.

North has been a perennial state title contender under Lambros. The Knights came within three outs of defending their state championship in 2011 and have been close in other years. When the Knights fell 6-4 to Southeast Guilford last spring, it broke a string of seven consecutive final four appearances. They still ended up with a  26-4 record.

At his age, Lambros could still coach quite a few more years but indicated it was impossible to know how long he would continue. That will be something he discusses with his wife.

“I don’t know,” Lambros said. “We have other things we can do like travel. It does feel good to know that you’ve got the opportunity to coach one more time. The kids, the people in the community, they make it easy to do that.”

Softball practice begins on Feb. 12.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or Follow Mike on Twitter: @LexDispatch_md.