Banks County High School has a new varsity head baseball coach, but he’s certainly not an unfamiliar face.
Banks County native Tyson Baxter will lead the Diamond Leopards into their 2015 season. Baxter was the junior varsity head baseball coach for BCHS this season, which was the first time he coached baseball in his seven years at Banks County.
“They asked me to help out, being that I had a baseball background,” Baxter said. “I fell back in love with it. I realized how fluent I was at coaching it.”
Baxter coached baseball for one year at Thornwell High School in Clinton, S.C., before taking a teaching job at Banks County. Since then, he has been an assistant coach on the varsity football and wrestling teams. He is also the head middle school wrestling coach.
When previous Leopard Mark Crook resigned after the 2014 baseball season, Baxter was a natural candidate for the position.
“I’d always had an idea that I wanted to be a head baseball coach – or a head coach in general, so I was excited to have the opportunity,” Baxter said.
In fact, he played varsity baseball while attending Banks County High School and went on to play at the collegiate level at Emmanuel and Piedmont colleges. His junior varsity Leopards finished the 2014 season with a solid 8-7 record, which Baxter called a “competitive season.”
“(The season) went great,” he said. “We had some kids move up to the varsity, so we had some kids on the JV get a lot of playing time. We would usually play games with 10 or 11 kids and we competed each game. That’s sometimes hard to do with a limited number of kids. They have great attitudes. We have a great group of guys and very supportive parents.”
Baxter also assisted the 2014 varsity team, so he has had plenty of time to become familiar with the team. He hopes the chemistry he has built with his athletes will help to know what’s expected.
“They kind of know the way I work,” he added, noting “accountability, hustle and playing the game the right way” as his fundamental philosophies.
Baxter noted that he plans on getting his players into game-shape sooner rather than later. He is a strong proponent of off season training, conditioning and “athletes being athletes all the time.”
“Nowadays, there is no off-season,” he added. “There are always ways to work. My goal is to be in midseason form by the time we play our first game. I don’t want to wait until the middle of the year for all my guys to have their arms and backs ready. The off-season is going to be huge for us – getting stronger and instituting our way of playing.”
While Baxter has a certain idea of how he wants his team to approach the game, he says he is malleable to adapting to their specific skill sets.
“I can bend, as far as playing style,” he said. “But we are going to have rules, and the players and coaching staff will have to go by them.”
The varsity Leopards endured a tough 1-21 season this year, and while Region 7-AAA is shuffling, it isn’t likely to get any weaker. Baxter inherits a tough job, but he relished in the challenge and looks forward to the start of the season.
“I appreciate the administration and athletic director,” said Baxter. “I’m very excited to accept the position and coach for a program I once played for.”