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Dacula softball coach Kelli Poff, right, poses for a photo with longtime Falcons softball coach Tracy Keefer after a 2019 ceremony to name the Dacula softball complex in Keefer’s honor.

After she leads the Dacula softball team into the final rounds of this week’s state tournament in Columbus, Kelli Poff will begin a new challenge.

Poff was approved last week by the Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Board of Education as the first athletic director at Seckinger, a new high school in Buford opening in August 2022 to relieve the Mill Creek and Mountain View clusters.

Poff, a 1999 Dacula grad, has been head softball coach at her alma mater since 2019, when she replaced her high school coach, Tracy Keefer. Keefer was Dacula’s head softball coach from 1996-2018.

Dacula begins play Thursday in Columbus — games continue through Saturday — and Poff starts her new role with Seckinger on Nov. 1.

“I’m thankful to (Seckinger) Principal (Memorie) Reesman for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be on the inaugural Seckinger team,” Poff said. “I love her passion for academic achievement, athletics and the arts and her focus to ensure that every student feels welcomed and a part of SHS. I’m looking forward to the impact that the first AI (artificial intelligence) themed cluster will have on preparing our students for the future. I am excited to work alongside Principal Reesman and the new staff at Seckinger to cultivate an inclusive high school experience that grows, impacts and inspires our students, athletes and the entire Jaguar community.”

While the opportunity at Seckinger is exciting, Poff will miss Dacula and a softball program that is special to her. She played on Dacula’s final slowpitch softball team as a high school freshman, then played her final three high school seasons on the Falcons’ first three fastpitch softball teams.

She said her experience at Dacula was great preparation for a future in athletic administration.

“I’m thankful to my former principal Dr. (Bryan) Long and athletic director Dr. (Zach) Smith for their leadership and mentoring over the last three years,” Poff said. “They believed in me and gave me the opportunity to come back home and coach these outstanding student-athletes. I was blessed with the opportunity to continue to strengthen the tradition of longtime softball coach and my high school coach, Tracy Keefer, and my hope is that in these three years, I have helped to create a top-notch program that focuses on growing people first. One that shows up for each other and for their school and community. One that plays the game the right way.

“I will miss my Dacula softball family and the relationships we built, but I am confident that the culture we created together is ingrained in us all. I’m ready to finish strong in Columbus this week.”

Poff, who played college softball at Darton and West Georgia, previously was head softball coach at Bacon County and at Woodland-Stockbridge before being hired at Dacula. Her experience also includes jobs in Florida at West Orange High in Winter Haven and at the Champions Sports Complex in Orlando.

She will lean on that experience as she helps build Seckinger, which has a mascot but still has a busy schedule ahead of coaching hires and athletic equipment orders.

“The future is bright for the Jaguars,” Poff said. “SHS will have next-generation athletic facilities and equipment. The coaching staff along with student-athletes will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create the norms, beliefs and rituals that will be part of the school legacy. I am excited about engaging the community and together building a winning athletics program that will change lives.”

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