New Thomson High School baseball coach Aaron Hall inherits a team that lost eight starters to graduation on its way to this year's state semifinals.
But he believes the Bulldogs will still be successful on the diamond.
"We've got a lot of great kids out there," said Hall, who was named head coach by the McDuffie County school board June 9. "They work hard; they hustle; and they do everything we ask.
"As long as the kids are hustling and have a good attitudes we're going to be successful."
His boss, athletic director Milan Turner, agrees.
"I'm excited to have Aaron as our head baseball coach. I think he'll do a wonderful job," Turner said Monday.
He said that he believes the Bulldogs will continue to have a winning program and compete for championships. But it's not the coach alone who makes a program successful, Turner said. Unity is essential.
"It takes the parents, coaches and players. They have to be supportive, be on the same page. Anything other than that hampers your ability to be successful."
Hall, who served as Jason Osborn's assistant coach for the past two years, said being named to the position fulfills a long-sought goal.
"It's something I've worked long and hard for," said Hall, who is in his 13th season as a coach.
He also serves as head football coach and athletic director at Thomson-McDuffie Middle School and will continue in those positions.
Osborn, who resigned this year for family reasons, coached baseball and softball at Thomson for two years and led the baseball team to successive semifinal appearances in state tournament competition. He had recommended that Hall be named his successor.
"He's a very good person, a very good friend," Osborn said. "When I was named the head coach he supported me 100 percent even though he had also applied for the job."
Hall has the same respect for Osborn.
"He's a great friend of mine, and we'll continue to talk," he said.
Hall is a 1994 graduate of Thomson High, where he played middle infielder in baseball and defensive lineman in football.
He graduated from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville in 1998. He has a specialist's degree from Augusta State University and a master's degree from Troy State University.
He's married to Bekki and they have two children, ages 5 and 8.
In an unusual move, Superintendent Jim LeBrun recommended that the board approve Turner as interim softball coach. The superintendent said he has not found a softball coach whose qualifications dovetail with the open teaching positions he has.
He said Ty Poss, who is seeking certification as a community coach, would assist Turner. Poss cannot be considered for the head coaching position because he is not certified to teach.
The board approved the recommendation.