Former Greenbrier star Nolan Belcher has agreed to join the coaching staff at USC Aiken. Belcher just finished his final season as a pitcher for the South Carolina Gamecocks. He ended his stint in Columbia with a tremendous senior campaign. The talented lefty finished the season 7-5 with a 2.38 era. He also led the team in innings pitched (117), strikeouts (95), and walked only 16 batters. Over the last nine years, Belcher has won three high school state championships and two college national titles. He will serve as a volunteer assistant coach for the 2013-14 season as he pursues his master’s degree in business administration.
Bringing in Belcher is a major coup for Pacer head coach Kenny Thomas. Last year Thomas lost long- time assistant Michael Holder, who took a job at North Georgia University. Holder had helped Thomas create a Columbia County pipeline in recent years. Last season, six players on the Pacers’ roster were products of Columbia County. A year ago, they helped guide the Pacers to 42 wins and the team spent several weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation. With the addition of Belcher, the Pacers will instantly be on the radar for kids who grew up watching Belcher baffle hitters during his prep career at Augusta Christian and Greenbrier. Between 2005-08, Belcher posted an astonishing 47-2 record with an equally incredible 516 strikeouts. Who would not want their son working with the best pitcher to ever toe a rubber in the county? I can’t think of anyone, and I am sure Thomas is banking on that notion too.
As if getting Nolan Belcher was not enough for the Pacers. They have also landed another Belcher.
Nolan’s cousin, Kody, is also suiting up for the Pacers this season. The fleet-footed outfielder was a standout at Lakeside during his prep career. He helped lead the Panthers to the 2011 state finals before signing with Kennesaw State. Well, Belcher has chosen to transfer to USC-Aiken, and should be an excellent addition to the Pacers squad.
Recently, I was reading the Georgia High School Football Daily, an e-mail produced by Max Preps, and I have to admit I was stunned.
Loren Maxwell, the founder of The Georgia High School Football Historians Web site (www.ghsfha.org) put out a list of the coaches in Class AAAAA with the longest tenure. I could have been given 50 guesses and still would have likely missed the coach who has the third-longest active streak at one school.
That coach is Marty Jackson of Evans HS. Jackson is entering his 11th year with the Knights, which is third only to Ron Gartrell at Stephenson High (18 years) and Bruce Miller at Gainesville High (12 years).
I am not surprised Jackson has been at Evans for 11 years. I remember when he made the move to Evans after a successful stint at Aquinas. And over the years, Jackson has had plenty of success with the Knights.
His teams went 27-7 over a three-year span between 2007-09, including a perfect 10-0 regular season and a region title in 2008.
What surprises me most is that there are not more coaches around the state with longer runs. As a matter of fact in the same email/newsletter it was revealed that of the 412 GHSA schools that play football, 90 will have new coaches this fall. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, coaches seemed to stay in one place a lot longer. Schools seemed to be less critical when teams had losing seasons and coaches seemed to stay put at one school as long as they could. Well, today, there is so much attention paid to wins and losses, that coaches who have a couple of losing seasons are sent packing.
Also, coaches who have success get so much attention today that offers come their way and they move on. I am not sure this is a positive trend, but it is the state of coaching high school ball in Georgia in 2013.
With this information in mind, Columbia County is fortunate to have all seven coaches for our high school teams back this season. However, you can bet there are parents and fans ready to call for the head of the coaches if their respective teams do not have success on the field.