Hawk Soccer and Raider Lacrosse Coaches Earn COM Recognition


The Cobb Schools’ Athletic Department has selected the latest Coach of the Month (COM) winners. The COM award highlights a female and a male coach doing exceptional work in the District. 

In conjunction with the Atlanta Braves and Good Game Atlanta, the winners receive a complimentary one-night stay at Aloft Atlanta at the Battery and dinner from Good Game Atlanta. 

“This is a small token of our appreciation for their efforts both on and off the court,” said Cobb’s Director of Athletics, Don Baker. “Coaches teach a full day, and their days are only half-over when the bell rings at 3:30. They continue to work with our student-athletes for hours each week, often at the expense of their own spouses and children. We believe we have the best coaches in the state and want to celebrate them as much as possible!”

The current winners are from Hillgrove and Walton. Heath Merrill coaches soccer for the Hawks and Joanna Kay coaches girls’ lacrosse for the Raiders.

Heath Merrill, Hillgrove, Soccer

The Hawk soccer team went 10-0 during the month of March and ended the regular season with only one loss (17-1), outscoring their opponents 78-15. Coach Merrill has this program consistently ranked in the Top 10 in the state and has won back-to-back region championships. In addition to teaching and coaching at Hillgrove, he leads book studies with his players on Friday mornings and coaches club soccer. 

“Coach Merrill loves to display his kids and his program,” said Hillgrove Athletic Director Johnathan Brown. “He relates to his students and wants the best for them inside and outside of school. He is a detailed marketing manager who often reminds us that we must tell our own story and takes every opportunity to showcase the great things his athletes do in the classroom and on the turf. He is appreciated by the staff and community for all he does for Hillgrove!”

“He is a progressive-minded coach, and he serves passionately and is dedicated to the success of his students,” agreed Principal Angela Stewart. “He has a lot on his plate but is still a highly effective coach and teacher. Coach Merrill is an incredible asset to Hillgrove!” 23-24%20cotm%20(11).png

Joanna Kay, Walton, Lacrosse

Like the Hawk Soccer team, the Lady Raiders went undefeated through March. After starting the season with three losses, Coach Kay turned the team around on a 12-game win streak. The team won the top spot in 7A Area 2 and earned a first-round bye in the postseason. As Walton’s only female Physical Education teacher, Coach Kay is a positive and encouraging role model for all the school’s female student-athletes.

“Coach Kay volunteered for the lacrosse job in the fall when the prior coach resigned after the school year started,” said Walton Athletic Director Chris Williams. “In her first year with the Girls Lacrosse Program, she won the Area.”

“She also coaches softball and flag football. Coach Kay works very well with players, parents, and staff to create a positive culture at Walton,” said AD Williams proudly about his Coach of the Month.