0531kempAUDListen to Jeremy Kemp talk about being named the new baseball coach at Gainesville High baseball and what it will be like replacing a coach like Wayne Vickery.
In what Vickery called the worst-kept secret in Hall County, Gainesville High announced on Friday that Vickery's assistant coach, Jeremy Kemp, will be the new head coach of the Red Elephants.
"I lost a lot of sleep worrying about whether or not I would get the job," Kemp said. "I wanted it real bad."
The Gainesville job is Kemp's first head coaching position, but according to the new coach, he'll have plenty of support from Vickery, who remains the athletic director at the high school.
"He's made it so easy for me," Kemp said of Vickery, who retired on May 12 after 20 years of coaching baseball at Gainesville. "He said he's retired but he's not going anywhere. He's helping me just like he did before and I don't see that changing.
"(Vickery) loves Gainesville High School too much to just take off and leave us," Kemp added. "He's going to be around and I like having him around."
While Vickery will be around to lend a helping hand, what Kemp won't have around is experienced players on his roster.
With players like Robby Hefflinger, Zach Bennett, Justin Fordham and Max Joseph all graduated, the Red Elephants return only 19 innings of varsity pitching experience on the mound and only one returning starter to a lineup that hit .355 as a team last season.
"We have a lot of stuff to figure out this summer," Kemp said. "We feel like we have a lot of potential."
Along with figuring out his team, Kemp also has to figure out who will be on his coaching staff.
"My first step is I have to get a coaching staff and get people in place," said Kemp, who stated that Adam Miller will remain the team's pitching coach. "We have some coaches, we just have to figure out where to put them."
And when he does find out where to put those coaches, Vickery has some advice for the newly hired head coach.
"He has to let his assistant coaches coach," Vickery said. "Give them responsibility and give them plenty of rope to run with. Make them feel like a part of the program."
That's what Vickery did during his tenure at Gainesville for his assistant coaches like Deuce Roark (Lakeview Academy's athletic director and baseball coach), Cris Carpenter (Flowery Branch's pitching coach) and Kemp, the man that is replacing a head coach that went 470-129 and won five state titles in his career at Gainesville High.
"If I look back in 20 years and I had the career that (Vickery) had, I'd be tickled to death," Kemp said.
Jeremy Kemp is no relation to Gainesville High principal Mike Kemp.