GDC honors many at Coaches Clinic

Posted 1/10/2020

Worth County baseball coach Will Smith speaks during the Georgia Dugout Club's Awards Ceremony Friday at the Marietta

Hilton Hotel & Conference Center. Smith received the Ethics in Coaching Award.


GDC honors many at Coaches Clinic


MARIETTA -- Will Smith tried hard to lighten the mood when he took to the podium.

"They got the microphone in the right spot," Smith quipped as he received the Georgia Dugout Club's Ethics in Coaching Award Friday afternoon at the Marietta Hilton Hotel, taking a jab at himself that drew some laughter from the audience.

Smith was honored as well as six new members of the Class of 2020, who were enshrined into the Georgia Dugout Club's Hall of Fame. The six newest members are Columbus State University coach Greg Appleton, former Toombs County and ABAC coach Steve Janousek, former First Presbyterian Day coach Jim Turner, Marist coach Mike Strickland, North Paulding's Dennis Jordan and the late Dennis Payne, the first umpire inducted into the Hall.

The club also honored its players and coaches of the year from the 2019 season. In addition, coaches received plaques for career milestone victories. Longtime Columbus High School coach Bobby Howard, now coaching at Saint Anne-Pacelli School in Columbus, received a standing ovation after he was honored for notching his 1,000th career coaching victory last April when his Vikings defeated Webster County. He is the first prep coach in Georgia to top the century mark in baseball victories.

Smith, who also received a plaque for his 300th coaching victory, talked about the importance high school coaches can make in their communties as well impacting the life of a player.

"A state championship may not be in your future," he said. "500 wins may not be in your future, but the impact we can make in our communities is well within all of our reach."

Strickland didn't spend much time behind the microphone after longtime coaches Ronnie Davis and former Marist baseball coach Dan Perez introduced him.

The Roswell native who has been head baseball coach the past two decades at South Forsyth and Marist has a career coaching record of 453-235-10 entering the 2020 season.

His first job was in his hometown at Independence High School, an alternative school, and he was as an assistant at Roswell High under longtime coach John Coen until Coen retired in 1997. When he wasn’t offered the head job, he concluded a busy summer by landing at South Forsyth. Strickland stayed there until 2005. He guided the War Eagles to three region titles, a semifinal appearance in 2003 and a quarterfinal trip in 2004. He left with a career coaching record of 111-93-9.

Strickland took over at Marist in 2005 and has been there since, leading the War Eagles to state titles in 2010, ’11 and ’17 as well as runner-up finishes in 2006 and ’13. He has led Marist to six region titles, two trips to the state semifinals (2007, '09) and a quarterfinal appearance in 2012.

"I'm at a loss," Strickland said. "To my family, thank you. To those former players and coaches, and this is going to make me cry, but for all the guys I've shared a dugout with, I don't think I can ever express what you mean to me. It truly is remarkable. Thank you."

Jordan should become one of the newest members of the elusive 500-career wins group this spring. His overall coaching record stands at 493-196.

He graduated from Tennessee in 1982 and the longtime North Paulding and Walton head baseball coach got his start as an assistant at South Cobb High in 1983 under the late Frank Worthy, also a Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame member.  

In 1986, he got his first head baseball job at Walton where he also was a football assistant. Jordan's baseball teams were some of the best in Cobb County and the state. From 1986-2002, he coached the Raiders. They won the school's first state baseball title in 1992. He guided the program to two state runner-up finishes in 1991 and '96, three trips to the state semifinals and six region titles in Georgia's highest classification.

In 2002, he took over as head baseball coach at Kell and was a football assistant for two years. He became Director of Baseball Operations for East Cobb Baseball from 2005-2012 before taking over as head baseball coach at North Paulding in 2012. He has taken teams at North Paulding to three quarterfinal appearances.

After getting introduced by former player Keith Crimwell, Jordan talked about how blessed he is.

"(Executive Director) Harvey (Cochran) said I wasn't going to have to say much, so I didn't prepare anything," Jordan joked.

He later added, "We are truly blessed with some great guys in this game. I've been blessed with a lot of great people around me. I'm just truly blessed."

Turner spent 33 seasons mentoring young players with all but one spent at First Presbyterian Day, a private school in Macon. His lone season away from FPD came during the 2003-04 season when he coached at Houston County. He was introduced by his longtime coaching friend Bob Jones, also a member of the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame.

Turner's career included a 370-216 record on the baseball diamond, including 10 region titles and state championships in 1992 and 2010 in the Georgia Independent Schools Association. His teams finished as state runner-up in 1986 and 1993. He was 10-time region coach of the year and two-time state coach of the year. In 2013 and 2014, his teams won region titles as members of the Georgia High School Association, which FPD joined in the fall of 2010. He retired from coaching baseball in 2014.

His softball record was 257-105 in 12 seasons, which included seven region titles and eight visits to the state semifinals. Four of his teams played for state titles.

Three of his region champion softball teams (2013, 2014 and 2015) were won in the GHSA. He retired from coaching softball after the 2015 season, then stepped away as an FPD faculty member in the spring of 2016.

"This is the greatest honor I've ever received," Turner said. "I just want to say 'Go Jesus.' He called me in 1971 when I was a student at UGA. He told me he wanted me to be a student who was different from the world."

Cole Janousek introduced his father Steve, who played on three collegiate teams that played for national titles. After coaching at Wheeler County High School for seven seasons, who took over at Toombs County in 1994 where he led the Bulldogs to a state title in 1996.

He spent three seasons at Toombs before moving into the college ranks as the head coach at ABAC in 1994 where he remained until 2012 when he stepped away. He won a combined 531 games while coaching high school and collegiate baseball.

Janousek cracked several jokes and made the audience laugh. But he was also serious, emphasizing the need to never give up on somebody no matter the circumstances.

Longtime Columbus State assistant coach Patrick Collins introduced Appleton, one of the state's more-successful collegiate coaches.

After playing for UGA from 1981-84, Appleton served as a graduate assistant at the university during the 1985 and ’86 seasons.

Before his days as a collegiate head coach, Appleton was the pitching coach and played a key role in helping Georgia win its only national baseball championship in 1990. As an assistant, he also helped the Bulldogs win the 1987 Southeastern Conference title as Georgia made the NCAA College World Series.

Before taking over the Columbus State baseball program, Appleton restarted the Young Harris baseball in program in 1994. He compiled a 127-74 mark in four seasons.

In 22 years of leading the Cougars, he has guided CSU to an NCAA Division II national title in 2002 and national runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2018. In addition, he has taken teams to the postseason 11 times and made four trips to the Division II College World Series. He has also guided the Cougars to two Peach Belt Conference regular-season championships and three tournament titles. His career coaching record with the Cougars is 803-430.

Appleton's overall career coaching record stands at 930-504 entering the 2020 season. He continuously thanked assistants Collins and Sammy Styers.

"But I've had some really good players," Appleton said. "I had some kids come in and give me all of their time. They put baseball first. To those players, I'm indebted to you."

Payne passed away on Feb. 25, 2019 after spending more than 40 years as an ambassador for high school sports. His wife Patty and his family, were in attendance and accepted the award on his behalf. He began his career as an official in baseball, basketball and football in 1972.

With the help of David Hudson, Payne started the Marietta Umpires Association in 1986 after having noticed a lack of umpires during the 1985 season.

He was hired as an Associate Director for the Georgia High School Association in 2001 where he was a sports coordinator for football, baseball, wrestling and swimming. He retired after the 2014 football season. Hudson introduced his longtime friend.

"Whatever Dennis did, he always wanted to do it the right way," Hudson said. "He taught us all to be on time. His theory was that if you were not an hour early, you were late."


Milestone Career Coaching Wins

100 Wins

Aaron Wilkens, Norcross

Dee Miller, Northside-Columbus

Jason Page, Jones County

Chad Mathis, Columbus

Jeff Thurman, Gilmer

Lance Ingram, Elbert County

Trent Bianco, Heard County

200 Wins

Mike Nayman, Creekview

Kenny Yanzetich, Rockmart

300 Wins

Will Smith, Worth County

Marc Lassiat, Alpharetta

Jay Lasley, North Oconee

Danny Slaughter, Howard

Tony Kirkland, Colquitt County

Brent Korn, Vidalia

400 Wins

Greg Robinson, Etowah

Chuck Cheek, Schley County

Brad Porter, Valdosta

Doug Nix, Berrien

Paul Glass, Jeff Davis

500 Wins

Jeff Segars, Loganville

Jeff Rowland, Pope

1,000 Wins

Bobby Howard, St. Anne-Pacelli


Players and Coaches of the Year Awards

Class 7A

Players - Jonathan French, Parkview and Deion Walker, Hillgrove

Coaches - Chan Brown, Parkview and David Richardson, Hillgrove

Class 6A

Players - Nick Watson-Garcia, Heritage-Conyers and Caden Smith, Pope

Coaches - Shane Ramsey, Heritage-Conyers and Jeff Rowland, Pope

Class 5A

Players - Jacob Boyd, Loganville and Sterling Richardson, Ola

Coaches - Jeff Segars, Loganville and Beau Edwards, Ola

Class 4A

Players - Mack Williams, Northside-Columbus and Matt Cassandra, Denmark

Coaches - Dee Miller, Northside-Columbus and David Smart, Denmark

Class 3A

Players - Coleman Crow, Pike County and Andrew Jenkins, Pace Academy

Coaches - Don Hanson, Pike County and Seth LaFera, Pace Academy

Class 2A

Players - Britt Metts, Jeff Davis and Ty Floyd, Rockmart

Coaches - Paul Glass, Jeff Davis and Kenny Yanzetich, Rockmart

Class 1A Public

Player - Chris Potter, Gordon Lee

Coach - Mike Dunfee, Gordon Lee

Class 1A Private

Player - Brooks Gorman, Tattnall Square

Coach - Joey Hiller, Tattnall Square


Fields of the Year


Camden County

Colquitt County










Lumpkin County

East Hall



Elbert County

1A Public

Telfair County


Columbus State


Assistant Coaches of the Year

Chad Brown, Bowdon

David Eeles, Allatoona

Boone Webster, Cook

Joseph Jones, Lumpkin County

Benny Livingston, Telfair County

Jon Veldhuis, Jefferson

Greg Brown, Riverwood

Rich Oria, Kennesaw Mountain

Brandon Harwell, Blessed Trinity

Gary Smith, Cairo

John Hurston, Woodward Academy

Matthew Kelly, North Oconee

Blake Parrott, Pike County

Jake Richardson, Carrollton

Zach Waters, Etowah

Luke Crumley, Chestatee

Mike Power, South Forsyth

Taylor Barber, Colquitt County

Brent McGuire, Westminster

Austin Smith, Ola

Phillip Byrd, Decatur

Gavin Porter, Heard County

David Reynolds, Parkview

Mike Cooper, Parkview

Wes Ellis, Hillgrove

Andrew Alverson, Hillgrove

Lane Perrings, Fellowship Christian


Pop Adair Service Award

(For invaluable contributions to the sport of baseball in our great state)

Diamond Sports - Mike Cole and Derek Cole

Georgia Dugout Preview Magazine - Tim Morse

All-American Specialties - Tony McIntyre

Mizuno Sports - Paxton Briley

Better Baseball - Glenn Robinson, Sterling Pace, Taylor Forrester

The Game -- Will Stillwell, Chad Kennedy, Tony Corbin

BSN Sports - CJ Bressoud