Garrett resigns at CHHS, will coach softball at Prattville

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Steve Garrett, who coached Charles Henderson to the Class 5A baseball state championship in May, resigned on Tuesday and will be head softball and an assistant football coach at Prattville High School.

Baseball players and parents were stopping by his home on Murphree Street after hearing the news.

"It's not a funeral," Garrett laughed.

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But there were mixed feelings. A flattering offer from Prattville wasn't enough. In fact, Garrett was ready to leave a job offer on the table after his interview last month with PHS athletic director Bill Clark.

"They didn't have a baseball position open and I was ready to say, good luck, thanks for your interest and maybe we'll talk again in the future," Garrett said. "Coach Clark said, why don't you hang around for our workout. So I stayed and watched the kids - it was unbelievable."

Garrett said the attention to detail even in a voluntary, offseason workout program was amazing.

"I was surprised by the organization, the discipline those kids had," he said. "They were fired up in July about their first game. It was everything I love to see as a coach. Everything I saw is what I love about athletics."

So he asked Clark to spell out the position that was open - in detail. "He was able to tell me practice dates, hours, on this day we're going to do this and this and this. The next day we're doing this and that. Right down the line. He laid it out."

That's when Garrett's sleepless nights started. "I couldn't sleep for two weeks," he said. "The players and parents have been wonderful. The last six years have been a positive experience. These people are the reason I can't sleep at night. I was concerned with their feelings."

His players understood his decision. "Everybody sort of saw this coming," said Drew Walker, who will be a junior. "We're going to miss him. Everybody's got this perception that he's this taskmaster. I'm going to miss all the fun we had."

"He worked us hard, but we showed hard work pays off," Jeremy Jones said. "He's been there for us."

Garrett compiled a 130-72 record in six seasons as head coach at CHHS. The state championship team posted a 34-11 record. Added to a one-year stint at Goshen High and two seasons at Andrews High in South Carolina, his career record to 172-91. But wins and losses don't come close to indicating his work in Troy.

"I'm very proud of what we accomplished in our six years here," he said. "I think everybody respects the Charles Henderson baseball program. We see the other team's No. 1 or No. 2 pitchers almost every game.

"The support we've had - Mayor Lunsford, Dan Smith, the parents and the players, it's been great."

Garrett and his players noted he wasn't just coaching high school baseball. He's seen or worked with most younger players in town before they got to CHHS.

"He'd come to our summer games," senior Morgan Sanders said. "He'd say, look, here's what you've got to work on."

"There's a good chance that anybody 8 and up I've coached or played with most kids who play ball in this town," Garrett said. "I've got four boys. If I'm not coaching my guys I'm helping out with another team or just going to the field watching kids play. I've been working with the future baseball players at Charles Henderson. I told our parents in the first meeting that our goal is nothing short of a state championship. It took us a year longer than I told them, but we got there."

Now, Clark has told Garrett he wants to see a state softball championship go to the Lions.

"That remains to be seen," Garrett said. "But it's great to see that he wants to do well in all sports. He supports all the sports at Prattville and the coaches support each other."

Coaching baseball will have to wait. Roger Lambert and his assistant coach, Tommy Goodson, have combined for a lot of victories themselves.

"Coach Lambert and coach Goodson, who was at JD, are true baseball guys," Garrett said. "True baseball guys are hard to come by, if you ask me."

Garrett's wife, Kelli, will be a teacher's aide as she earns her teaching certificate. She will also be Prattville's cross country coach.

"I could tell coach Clark is a family guy himself," Garrett said. "I told Kelli, can you believe he's pushing this hard to bring us here? It's unreal."

Steve, Kelli and the rest of the Garrett family - sons Gaige, Stormm, Brax and Zane - will move to Prattville immediately. Just as in Troy, school starts Monday.