White County High baseball coach John Brown is already a high school coaching legend in Florida, but he’s starting to make a name for himself in Region 7-AAA, as well.
After a prestigious coaching career that spanned three decades in Florida, Brown took the head coaching position at White County in 2007 and led the Warriors to their first playoff appearance in 18 years this season.
For his efforts, Brown is The Times 2008 Baseball Coach of the Year.
“I didn’t really know what players I had when I first came here,” Brown said. “The team hadn’t been successful in the past, and I was hoping I could turn them around.”
Brown did just that. In his first two seasons at White County, he coached the Warriors to 31 wins, including a school-record 16 in 2007, followed by the playoff drought-ending 15-13 season in 2008.
“The players did a great job,” Brown said. “They responded really well after winning 16 last year, and it was really fun to see them make the playoffs.”
The playoffs aren’t anything new to Brown.
Before coming to Georgia, he coached for 35 years at University Christian in Jacksonville, Florida, compiling a 645-274-3 record with three state championships and 10 final four appearances. He was inducted into the Florida Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000.
According to Brown, “about 60 players” he coached have played baseball beyond high school, including former Major Leaguers Glenn Davis and Storm Davis.
“I’ve really enjoyed having a lot of good players over the years,” Brown said.
But where there’s hard work there’s also relaxation, which is what brought Brown and his wife to White County.
“My wife always wanted to move to a small community,” Brown said. “We’ve enjoyed it here so far.”
When the Warriors’ baseball coaching position opened up, it gave Brown the opportunity to coach again, but this time on a team that hadn’t made the playoffs in almost two decades.
He wasn’t able to end the drought in his first year of coaching at White County, but Brown, along with pitching coach Scott Frederick, made it evident that the team’s turnaround was complete coming into the 2008 season.
Led by pitchers Brantley Gee, Jake Crumley and David Sosebee along with solid hitting from Josh Ingram, Jesse Brown, Bart Westmoreland, Kevin Frederick and Travis Rutkiewicz, the Warriors remained in contention for the entire season with a 13-9 region record and key wins over Flowery Branch, Gilmer and North Hall.
But the highlight of the year was the last regular season game. After the then fourth-seeded North Hall closed their season out with a loss to Flowery Branch, White County defeated West Hall 14-5 to move ahead of the Trojans in the region standings and clinch the final playoff spot.
“We knew going into that game that if we won we’d be in the playoffs,” Brown said. “We really stepped up, and it was exciting.”
Although the Warriors were eliminated in the first round of the Class AAA state tournament by Dunwoody, they are poised for a repeat appearance next year, with six returning seniors and a wealth of young talent.
Brown will lead them once again, as he continues to add win after win to his impressive resume.
I love seeing the kids win and succeed,” Brown said. “That’s why I’m still coaching today.”