Augusta Christian Schools new baseball coach Eric Lairsey had just signed his contract. Before the ink was dry he had his eyes on the sky.
Augusta Christian Schools interim Athletic Director Steve Price (right) introduces Eric Lairsey, the new head baseball coach.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
After officially becoming the coach Monday, Lairsey asked, "What's the weather look like?"
The 28-year-old was ready to meet his players and begin practice on a cloudy afternoon in Columbia County.
"I'm looking forward to working with the kids and sewing into their lives spiritually as well," Lairsey said. "I am a Christian and take pride in my faith in the Lord. I believe he's put me here for a reason, and we're going to try to win some baseball games in the process."
Lairsey is in his first head coaching job, but he has plenty of baseball experience. The Blackshear, Ga., native was an all-state player at Pierce County High School and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1991.
During three seasons in the minors, Lairsey, a left-handed pitcher, played alongside future stars Chipper Jones and Javy Lopez, among others. Knee problems ended his professional career in 1994, although he made a brief comeback by playing in the Frontier League in 1999.
Lairsey moved to the Augusta area two years ago and is finishing his education degree at Augusta State University.
"We are hiring him as head baseball coach for this year, and it might be something where he grows into the position on a long-term basis. That would be the ideal situation," said Steve Price, Augusta Christian's interim athletic director.
The baseball situation at AC has been less than ideal since former head coach Pete Meadows left for Westminster in June 2000. Meadows had established Augusta Christian as a Georgia Independent Schools Association power and had led the Lions to Class AAA state titles in 1996 and '99.
Augusta Christian hired Terry Weaver to replace Meadows, but Weaver accepted a college coaching position and left the Lions before the 2001 season was under way.
Chileno Valdez coached the baseball team last year but was relieved of his duties by then-athletic director Mike Gold, who had planned to be the baseball coach during the 2002 campaign.
Then Gold resigned, which left Augusta Christian searching for a fourth baseball coach.
Lairsey now steps in to provide some stability; although he's glancing over his shoulder, he also is looking ahead.
"There's some pressure, just from the things that Pete Meadows was able to accomplish here," he said. "I don't think it's anything the Lord hasn't prepared me for at this point in my life. We've got a new era starting here. We're going to restore some confidence back in these kids."
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