Wayne Vickery was a wildly successful baseball coach during his 20-year career at Gainesville High. His 470-129 career record, and state titles in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2002 are all the proof needed to verify that.
Now Vickery is set to be enshrined in the Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
During Vickery’s tenure, the Red Elephants won five of the school’s seven state titles in baseball. Gainesville is tied with Richchmond Academy for third in Georgia High School Association history for total state titles behind Marist (9) and Columbus (8).
Vickery, who stepped down as baseball coach following the 2008 season, but still serves as the school’s athletic director, says having one of the state’s best marks of a baseball coach in state history is more a result of the players and assistant coaches that were along for the ride.
"The wins I had are a tribute to the Roarks, Menocals and Owings I’ve coached along the way," Vickery said. "I couldn’t have had the career I had without great players and assistants by my side.
"During our championship seasons, the chemistry was pretty darn good."
Along with great players and assistant coaches, Vickery said he was the beneficiary of good luck, too. During his five state championship seasons, 24 of the 25 playoff series were held at Ivey-Watson Field. He points to the 2001 season when Gainesville hosted Screven County, which were the two best teams in the state that season in his opinion, in the third round of the playoffs.
"A lot of the time it pays off to be in the right bracket."
Vickery couldn’t have possibly imagined such a legendary career when he took over three games into the 1989 season when the late Don Golden stepped down to begin working on his new position as the football coach at Jackson County.
Before he took over as Gainesville’s coach, Vickery was on the opposite side of the action as an umpire, as well as faculty member at Gainesville.
The Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame is located in the Northeast Georgia History Center on the campus of Brenau University.
On Aug. 29, University of Georgia athletics director Damon Evans will be at the Georgia Mountain Center in downtown Gainesville to honor 15 northeast Geogia athletes and one incredibly successful team. There will be five new inductees into the Hall of Fame and 10 additional athletes will be honored as the first Elite 10, some of Northeast Georgia’s best high school athletes of the last 10 years.
The induction ceremony will be open to the public, and tickets and sponsorships are available. For more information, call Glen Kyle at the Northeast Georgia History Center, 770-297-5900.