RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — After a decade at the helm of the Russellville High School baseball team, leading the Golden Tigers to five state championships, Russellville head coach Chris Heaps will officially step down on August 1.

Heaps will be retiring from public education and pursuing an opportunity he’s been given to coach in the private education sector in the Birmingham area. The specific opportunity is not being released at this time at Heaps’ request.

Heaps said this was an unbelievably difficult decision to make, but after many discussions with his family and lots of prayer, he believes this is the right time for him to make this transition.

“I’ve prayed about this and when would be the right time for me to retire from the public sector and possibly pursue other opportunities in the private sector,” Heaps said in a statement. Heaps said he thought it would be another year before moving but, “God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we think he will, but I trust and believe that his timing is always right.”

Heaps said as glad as he will be to be closer to family, he is gutted at the thought of leaving Russellville and a program and community that has been nothing short of a dream come true.

“Leaving Hartselle in 2011 after coaching there with Coach Booth and being part of an amazing program like that was hard,” Heaps said. “Hartselle was home, and it was hard to make that decision when I applied for and was hired as the head baseball coach at Russellville.” Heaps said they rented a home just in case things didn’t go as planned, “The community might have hated me. We just didn’t know.”

“But what my time at Russellville turned into was an absolute fairytale. Russellville is our home, and I am absolutely black and gold through and through. This has been an awesome place for me and for my family,” Heaps said.

Russellville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Heath Grimes said he felt like he could speak not only for himself but for the whole community when he said this will be a huge loss for RCS.

“Coach Heaps has had an amazing tenure here at RCS that has led many in the community and across the state to label it a dynasty, and rightfully so,” Grimes said. “What he’s been able to do with our baseball program is amazing, and it goes without saying that he is going to be missed tremendously. However, we respect his priorities lying with his family, and we wish him nothing but the very best as he moves into this next phase of his personal and professional life.”

“The love affair I have had the past 10 years with this place is something so special that it’s hard to even put into words. I love this place and the people here with all my heart. Leaving is going to be tremendously hard,” Heaps continued.

Grimes said RHS Assistant Coach Jay Stanley will be the interim head baseball coach while applications are received and the process moves forward to hire a new head coach. The job will be posted for a minimum of seven days, and a decision will be made ‘deliberately but swiftly,’ according to the school system.