Jackson Herald sports reporter Ben Munro catches up with Jefferson softball coach Zach Black in this installment that profiles coaches and athletes around Jackson County. Black, who is in his second year with the Dragons, talks about what drew him to Jefferson; balancing family life and coaching; and how he nearly sought a career in law enforcement.
Munro: You’re originally from Suwanee in northern Gwinnett County. I believe you’ve said the folks around Jefferson jokingly refer to you as “city boy.” How do you feel about that distinction?
Black: Yes, two of my assistant coaches, Sam Moore and Kimberlee Tolbert, refer to me as a city boy. They make fun of me because I do not own a pair of boots, my shorts come down to my knees and I do not hunt. So I guess that classifies me as a city boy. We have a pretty good time with it.
Munro: What sports did you play at North Gwinnett High School? What was the glory moment of your high school athletic career?
Black: I played two years of basketball and four years of baseball at North Gwinnett. My “glory moment” was probably my junior year of baseball. I hit two homeruns in one game off a pitcher who is now playing in AAA for the White Sox I believe. So I guess that was pretty cool.
Munro: What got you into coaching softball?
Black: I got into coaching softball my first year at Apalachee. The head softball coach and baseball coach was the same guy. I was already helping with baseball so he asked me to help with softball as well. Growing up my dad also coached, so I had been around the game before.
Munro: You’re now in your second year at Jefferson. What drew you to the Jefferson job?
Black: I was drawn to the job at Jefferson originally because it was five minutes from my house. I have always heard great things about Jefferson and knew if the opportunity ever presented itself I would love to pursue a job here. The job came open, I put my name in, prayed a lot and was fortunate enough to receive the job. Jefferson really is a great place to work.
Munro: You’ve got teaching duties on top of your coaching duties and have two young children as well. That’s got to get hectic sometimes. How do you balance everything?
Black: I try and balance everything by staying organized, and I write a lot of things down. I probably send myself 20 emails a day of things I need to do. I try and focus on one task at a time — much easier said than done. I am also blessed to have great help around me.
Munro: Switching gears, do you have any other hobbies outside of sports?
Black: Outside of sports my hobbies would probably be keeping up with my two kids. My daughter is two and my son is six months, so it makes for some pretty entertaining times away from coaching.
Munro: If you had gone into a profession other than coaching, what would it have been?
Black: Another profession I would have gone into would be a S.W.A.T. team or FBI agent. Those are some pretty awesome dudes. I seriously considered it at one point, but my whole family is teachers so if I didn’t teach they may have kicked me out of the family.
Munro: What bands/musical acts are on your playlist right now?
Black: Right now I am listening to country or Christian music. Usually Kicks 101.5 or 104.7 on the radio. I’ve gotten pretty big into Luke Bryan and his song “Play it Again.” Probably my favorite right now.
Munro: Back to softball. You’ve been very complimentary of your team’s chemistry. What makes the group’s camaraderie so special?
Black: I think the team’s chemistry this year starts with our seniors. Meagan (Faulkner), Olivia (Husted), Arynn (Baker) and Emily (Holman) have done a great job of including everyone — no matter the grade — in things they do. They all seem to get along with each other and enjoy being around each other both on and off the field, which is great to see from a coach's perspective.
Munro: Where do you see this program going in the next three to four years?
Black: In three to four years I hope we are continuing to get better. Not only do we want to make the girls the best softball players they can be, but more importantly help them, become great people and become prepared for things they may face in the real world. One day their softball careers will be over, but hopefully something they learn from us through softball they can use the rest of their life.
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