As I settled in to write this column, I had no idea of whether the Evans Knights were alive or dead in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA state baseball playoffs.
At press time, Evans was gearing up for a trip to Warner Robins High School for an opening round, best-of-three series against the Demons.
Win or lose, the season has been an overwhelming success for the Knights first-year coach Ricky Beale.
Evans entered the state playoffs with a 19-6 record (13-4 in Region 4-AAAAA).
Beale knows a great deal about success in Evans' pinstripes.
During his junior and senior years at Evans, he played first base, second base and designated hitter for the 1989 and '90 state championship teams.
As an integral part of the diamond legacy, when the opportunity came to become the Knights head coach, Beale didn't hesitate.
He considers this his dream job.
"Definitely. From the time I decided to become a coach, this is the job I wanted," Beale said. "I could see myself retiring here."
Beale and his wife Blaine have been married for nearly seven years, and they have two children - Justin (4 years old) and Adam (six months).
Beale began his coaching career seven years ago as an assistant at Butler High School. He then moved on to Evans Middle School, where he coached for two years before joining Evans High as an assistant under head baseball coach Chris Segraves.
After three seasons with the Knights, Beale got his chance when Segraves stepped down as coach in order to focus on administrative duties at Evans.
Did Beale think his youth would stop him from getting the job?
"We hoped it wouldn't," he says. "I thought that with be being from Evans, and knowing the kids in this program, would help."
Did he celebrate when he got the nod?
"No, not really," Beale admits. "I was on my way out of town. I was going to Tennessee to try and complete my specialist degree in education; so, I did a few interviews and got on the road."
Considering Evans has earned five state baseball championships, was there any pressure?
"No outside pressure. Any pressure I've had, I've put on myself. The kids have been great. They have certainly helped with my transition."
I've know Ricky Beale for nearly 20 years, and can honestly say the head coaching job at Evans couldn't have gone to a more deserving person. He's honest, hard-working and has dedicated himself to furthering his education and coaching career.
Win or lose in the state playoffs, Evans hired the right man for the job.
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