BRADENTON -- John Carlock is retiring.
"It's for good," he said.
A fixture in Manatee County prep sports since the early 1980s, the 68-year-old Carlock has stepped down as Manatee's softball coach, ending a four-decade career of working with Hurricanes athletics.
"I've got 13 grandkids who I don't see a lot of. I've got to see them," said Carlock, adding his wife also has been taking care of her 93-year-old mother. "I need to share myself with her and the grandkids."
Carlock told Manatee athletic director Joe Kinnan of his intentions in early February and spent the season grooming his assistants to take over the program.
"I just volunteered the rest of the year," he said. "I tried to get them as much as experience as possible, and we worked together in terms of who was pitching and things."
After coaching softball at Manatee from 1996-2003, Carlock returned to the program in 2008 and went 115-46, including a program-best 24-5 mark in 2009, and eclipsed the 20-win plateau three times.
But the Canes didn't win a district championship or get past the second round of the region playoffs during Carlock's second stint.
"We had some decent records," Carlock said, "but we didn't win when it came time for the playoffs."
This year's Hurricanes went 18-8, earning the second seed and a first-round bye in the Class 7A-District 11 tournament.
But Manatee lost to Sarasota in the district semifinal after beating the Sailors twice during the regular season.
"Take your hats off to Sarasota, they hit the ball well," Carlock said. "That's the way it goes."
Carlock won 133 games, a pair of district titles and a region title during his first run as the Canes' softball coach and won 160 games as the head coach of Manatee's baseball team from 1984-93.
Carlock served as Braden River's first baseball coach when the school opened in 2005, piloting the Pirates for two years.
"He instilled a lot of discipline and a work ethic," said Dwayne Strong, the Hurricanes' baseball coach who played and coached under Carlock at Manatee, "which was instrumental in help making me the player that I was and coach that I am."
Aside from baseball and softball, Carlock won three championship rings while working with Manatee's football team in the '80s. He was the JV coach when the Canes won their first football title in 1983 and served as the offensive line coach on the '85 and '89 championship teams.
Carlock acknowledged it will be tough not spending his evenings at a baseball or softball field next spring, but he feels he made the right decision.
"It takes a lot time to do the job the right way and be a head coach," Carlock said. "I don't want to short-change anyone. ... I think the biggest thing I enjoyed was the competition and the game. And like all coaches, I liked to see my players, whether it was baseball or softball, go on to two-year and four-year schools. And I appreciate all the time I spent at Manatee. It's been wonderful."
Though his head coaching days are done, Carlock said he wouldn't mind helping out Manatee's baseball or softball teams whenever possible.
Strong is all for it.
"Absolutely," he said. "We've already discussed that a little bit, and if he's got some time, he's always welcome to come down here. He's got a lot of knowledge."