Thomson High School Baseball Head Coach Terry Holder, the second most winning prep baseball coach in Georgia history, has for the second time in his career decided to retire.
"I just kind of felt like it was time to turn the program over to someone younger than I am - someone with a lot more energy than I've got," said Coach Holder in an interview with The McDuffie Mirror last Friday.
News of his intended departure leaked out several days earlier, but Coach Holder chose not to disclose it publicly until he spoke with the newspaper.
Just one day after his team lost Game 3 of the best-of-three-series to Northside-Columbus in the second round of the Class AAA state baseball playoffs, Coach Holder met with his team in his last official capacity.
It was an emotional time.
Abram Cartledge, one of the team's star pitchers this season, summed up what he heard in one word: "Heartbreaking."
Nick Rau, who like Cartledge is a rising junior, said the news from Coach Holder was "shocking," although he admitted his father, Carl, who played under Coach Holder at Evans High School, had mentioned to him that he had heard that the team's skipper was leaving.
"I really hate it, because I've learned so much from Coach Holder," said Rau.
The legendary coach said he discussed the idea of leaving with several school system administrators before he actually submitted an official letter of resignation about a week ago to Thomson Middle School Principal Claude Powell.
Coach Holder, who on July 21 will turn 63, has led the Thomson Bulldogs the last four years. He most recently guided the baseball team to a Region 3-AAA championship - the school's first baseball region title in four decades. He also was named Region 3-AAA "Coach of The Year."
During his first year at Thomson, Coach Holder led the Bulldogs to the first round of the Class AAA state baseball playoffs. The team went a step further this year, getting to the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated by Northside-Columbus last week. Thomson did not make the playoffs in his second or third years, even though the team managed double-digit wins both seasons.
Coach Holder said when he took over the program four years ago that he never intended to stay a long time. After being asked repeatedly by friends to resurrect the baseball program in Thomson, he decided to take them up on the idea. It followed nearly 30 years of teaching and coaching in the Columbia County School System, where he helped lead the Evans Knights and Greenbrier Wolfpack to eight state baseball championships.
"I told Dr. (Mark) Petersen, the school superintendent and Mr. (Rudy) Falana, the principal at Thomson High, that I'd do everything I could do to get the baseball program on a good foundation," Coach Holder said. "I think we've accomplished that and now it's time to turn the program over to someone else."
Coach Holder said he sincerely appreciated the opportunity to have coached the baseball team at Thomson High School.
"Dr. Petersen was most gracious in providing the assistant coaches that I told him I'd need to build a successful baseball program," Coach Holder said. "I remember him telling me that nothing was too good for the kids in McDuffie County. It really meant a lot to have his support and the overwhelming support we got from the community."
Thomson High Athletic Director Luther Welsh said he hated hearing the news.
"Terry has done an outstanding job in rebuilding our baseball program," said Coach Welsh. "He's been a great asset to our baseball and football program. I hate to see him leave, but I understand."
Aside from his baseball duties, Coach Holder also worked as an assistant football coach and physical education teacher at Thomson Middle School.