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Osborn's hiring marks return to tradition

Posted: July 31, 2013 - 12:06am  |  Updated: July 31, 2013 - 12:51am

Last week, Greenbrier confirmed a rumor that had been swirling through the county when Jason Osborn was named as the new head baseball coach. And while many folks in Columbia County may not know the name, and although Osborn has never coached or played at Greenbrier, this was a move made to bring back tradition. Osborn knows all about the baseball tradition in the CSRA. He played for Westside in the early ’90s for Gerald Barnes, the all-time winningest coach in Georgia history. He also served as an assistant for four seasons under Columbia County coaching legend Terry Holder at Thomson. Those two coaches have combined for nearly 1,400 victories in their Hall of Fame careers, and Holder will forever be a part of Columbia County lore after winning eight state championships in a 12-year span between 1988 and 1999. The final three titles came when he helmed Greenbrier High School’s team.

Back in 1996, when Greenbrier opened its doors, from day one the man running the athletic program was Holder. He guided the football team to incredible heights for a new program, but what he did in baseball will never be duplicated. Holder’s Wolfpack teams won the state title in their first three years of existence. Schools go decades without even playing for a title and Greenbrier had three crowns right out of the gate. Everyone expected success at Greenbrier, but no one expected a three-peat in the school’s first three years. Maybe we underestimated Holder. After all, he had made the move to Greenbrier after leading Evans to five state championships in eight seasons.

A few of his players, most notably Mark Thornhill, made the jump to Greenbrier too. Thornhill, who would go on to be a four-year starter at Georgia, helped establish the Greenbrier tradition. Holder’s teams at Evans were known for discipline and their pinstripes. Both were staples of those early teams at Greenbrier. Holder was a no-nonsense coach who had no patience for misbehavior and lack of effort. He always got the most out of his players and that quality was a major reason Greenbrier got off to such an amazing start. When he retired after the 1999 season, Holder was the all-time leader in victories in the history of Georgia high school baseball, and he left the program in the capable hands of his long-time assistant Ed Williams. When Williams stepped down to become an administrator, he handed the reins to Rodney Holder (Terry’s middle son). Each won state titles and carried on the ’Pack tradition built by Terry Holder, Danny Black, and so many others back in the late ’90s.

At some point the school’s reputation started to take a hit. Who really knows when it happened or who was to blame, but gradually a team that had been known for excellence on the field and discipline off it, was gaining a reputation as arrogant and tough on officials. Some complained about the parents, others blamed the coaches and some even cited the players as the problem, but for whatever reason, they had strayed from some of the values that served Greenbrier so well early on.

That is probably why, when faced with a decision on a new coach, Greenbrier Athletic Director Garrett Black sought one man’s guidance. He put Terry Holder in charge of the school’s search committee for a new coach. Holder knew immediately that he would consider Jason Osborn. Osborn did not play for Holder at Greenbrier, but he knows the “Holder Way.” Osborn spent fours years under Holder at Thomson, when Holder came out of retirement to guide the Bulldog’s program. In 2009, Holder led Thomson to the school’s first region title in 40 years.

Then Holder handed over the program to his young assistant, Osborn. Osborn promptly guided the Bulldogs to back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2010 and 2011. Osborn, who also coached Thomson’s softball team, next took the softball coaching job at Lumpkin County. There, Osborn took a team that had won eight games in 2010 and led them to 22 wins and an Elite 8 appearance in 2012.

It was important for Black to make Holder a part of the process and to have the legendary coach by Osborn’s side as he was named the new coach.

It was a sign to everyone that Greenbrier was going back to the ideals that made the Wolfpack one of the top programs in the Southeast.

Let there be no doubt, this will be Osborn’s team, but having a connection to the Holder tradition of excellence can only be a good thing for Greenbrier.

The pinstripe uniforms have already been ordered.

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Comments (3)

awkwardtimes_1

good stuff

"mismanagement of funds", hilarious!

Put together a search committee for a new AD, then you'll get somewhere.

Athletesparent

Ashley, Who did GHS hire

Ashley, Who did GHS hire Osborn or Terry Holder? Your article extols the virtues of Holder and Barnes, but not much of Osborn; sure would like to know more about Osborn’s actual coaching credentials rather than Holder’s and Barnes’, since he was the one hired. Otherwise Osborn’s pedigree sure reads like Coach Wilkin’s, the former GHS baseball coach that was terminated under very suspect circumstances. Wilkins was also a Westside High product who played for the referenced Coach Barnes and certainly “knows all about the baseball tradition in the CSRA.” (Heck, I know about the CSRA’s baseball tradition, doesn’t mean I’d be good coach.) Despite Coach Wilkins’ knowledge of the CSRA baseball tradition, the same background as Osborn’s, and moreover, his better coaching record in a much more competitive high school classification, e.g. two state finalist finishes, he was let go for “mismanaging funds”. (If that is the standard, let’s audit all the GHS coaches’ and administrators’ funds, but that is another subject.) The idea that somehow GHS’ baseball reputation has suffered lately must have been generated by the unknown “some” that blamed the coaches or players or parents you reference in your article, because I never heard about that from opposing coaches, parents, players or fans. From my direct interaction with Coach Wilkins and his assistant coaches, and the manner in which they treated my son and his teammates, I found absolutely nothing to suggest a deterioration or departure from the values that every good parent wants instilled in their children – integrity, hard work, self reliance, team work, and sportsmanship. In fact, I found quite the opposite. I suppose Coach Osborn is a “good guy”, but so was Coach Wilkins, and as his record indicates, he was a good coach. The manner in which Coach Osborn was selected, apparently back in February or March, leaves one very skeptical of the reasons for the hire and distrustful of the administrators involved…not a healthy situation for parents of students at GHS.

Athletesparent

awkwardtimes_1

not rocket science....

don't over think this one. AB wrote this article because there was some underlying, arbitrary move to what their administration labels 'tradition'. two problems with that.

one, admin has zero idea as to the tradition that made the school what it WAS, not is. it's not that they're not trying, they just are at a disconnect. in your spare time, look at the group of coaches that were at GHS in the beginning, where are they now? there is a reason for that. they preach tradition, pinstripes, etc....like that wins baseball games. anyone remember that inaugural state championship teams did not have pinstripes? how in the WORLD did they win, lol? Osborn is another Westside graduate...do I need to continue with how disconnected ghs leadership is to tradition?

second, the only connection they could find in attempt to somehow resurrect the Holder tradition is a guy (who has a record of being a pretty decent coach) that coached with Holder at a football school that was mildly successful at baseball for a few years. this was a holder hire, period. "How can we get back to the golden days? - Ask Holder."

I, for one, am pulling extremely hard for Coach Osborn. By Columbia County standards, we have had a rough 7-8 years as a whole and ready to get a local school back on the baseball map.

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