A series of open letters...
To the McDuffie County School Board and Administration:
Congratulations on making the commitment that lured Coach Terry Holder into accepting the position of head baseball coach at Thomson High School. A true commitment means more than showing up at a few games and being seen. By giving Coach Holder the things that he knows he needs to be successful you have demonstrated this commitment.
Many in the public will assume that you opened the bank vault for Coach Holder. I have not, and will not, check what is a matter of public record to see for myself. I have absolutely no doubt that whatever compensation you gave Coach Holder will be money well spent. To my knowledge, Coach Holder is the first well-established coach with a solid resume of experiences ever hired to coach a sport other than football at Thomson High School. This is a step in the right direction.
In closing, it is my wish that your next expenditure toward athletics will have to be for increased seating at the THS baseball field. There is reason to believe that a successful baseball program will bring pride into this community like the football program does. Hopefully, the baseball park will eventually become jammed for games like football Friday nights in the Brickyard.
To Coach Terry Holder:
Thanks for reconsidering and accepting the THS baseball job. I have known you for less than a year, but just by working around you I can see the effect that you have on kids. You can firmly tell a middle schooler that doesn't know you from Adam to get in line and he automatically does it without question. Others and myself can beg this same kid to get in line and he is subject to go off on us like nobody's business.
You have absolutely no ego that I can see. You laugh at yourself and my sarcasm toward your past accomplishments like they are really funny. Your accomplishments are nothing to joke about, but you manage to do it. You give the credit to the players and your support groups. Good luck in building Thomson High into a competitive and hopefully championship baseball program. I'll be with you win or tie.
To THS baseball players and parents:
Now is your big chance. The school system and Coach Holder have stepped to the plate, but they aren't God. You've gotten what you have long wanted: a baseball coach that's been there and done that. The pressure is now on you to get with the program, work hard, and perform. Are you willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to improve your games? Are you willing to miss a few days at the pool or beach in the summertime? Are you ready to accept that your playing ability, both mental and physical, will be a far greater factor in your level of success than Terry Holder's pedigree will be?
Terry Holder didn't win multiple state championships because he has the market cornered on baseball knowledge. He'll be the first to tell you that he had good players willing to do what it takes to win. This hoped for transition at Thomson High will not occur overnight. You must be patient enough to deal with some growing pains. You can't get down and start complaining every time you think a game was lost because the coach didn't bunt at the right time or you didn't practice enough. I can assure you, few THS baseball games will now be lost because of coaching. Neither will many be won because of coaching. Terry Holder will lead; you must be willing to follow.
Shifting gears for just a second, I've been doing this for The Mirror for nearly two years now and have come up with a way to celebrate this newspaper's second anniversary. I'm asking readers to submit sports questions - any sports questions - to The Mirror at firstname.lastname@example.org. Editor Jason and I will cull the list down to a manageable size, and I'll answer the questions in this space throughout July.
And don't be afraid to ask anything - I sure won't be afraid to try to answer it.