Akridge to receive Ethics-in-Coaching award

Posted 10/14/2022

Habersham Central coach Chris Akridge will be honored as the 2022-23 recipient of the Ethics-in-Coaching award

given annually by the Georgia Dugout Club.

 

Akridge to receive Ethics-in-Coaching award

 

The mobile phone rang and Chris Akridge was slow to answer.

The voice on the other end sounded familiar.

It was Greg Frady who chairs the Ethics-in-Coaching committee for the Georgia Dugout Club, and he wanted to tell Akridge some good news.

The longtime Habersham Central coach wasn’t prepared for what Frady would tell him.

“I was blown away,” said Akridge who will receive the 2022-23 Ethics-in-Coaching award. “Maybe blown away is an understatement. I’m extremely humbled and honored, and I certainly don’t think I am the most-deserving. But anytime you are chosen by your peers, it is a tremendous honor. I truly can’t express my gratitude toward Coach Frady and the Georgia Dugout Club for this honor.

He will be honored during the Georgia Dugout Club’s awards ceremony on Dec. 9. The ceremony is part of the group’s annual Coaches Clinic that will be held at the Atlanta Renaissance Waverly Hotel.

Akridge is in his 14th season as the head baseball coach at Habersham Central. He was a Habersham assistant baseball coach for four years before taking over the head job. Before arriving in Mount Airy, he spent five seasons as an assistant baseball coach at Faith Academy near Mobile, Ala.

Known as a player’s coach who values building family relationships in the dugout and outside the field, the longtime coach is well-respected by his peers.

“He is a man of integrity and he does it the right way,” Frady said. “Not only that, but he does a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff that nobody really sees or knows about for the good of the players and the game. He is a great guy to have in our coaching circle.”

In 2019, Akridge guided the Raiders to the Georgia High School Association state baseball playoffs, their first since 2006 and just the second postseason appearance in the school's 50-year history. Then after the coronavirus pandemic shut down the 2020 season, Akridge guided Habersham back to the playoffs in 2021 in a region that consisted of state power Winder-Barrow and nationally-ranked Buford.

But as much as Akridge likes to win, it’s the relationships that he is most proud of.

This past summer, two former players made sure Akridge and his family received invitations to their weddings. Keeping close contact with his former players and students is something Akridge does on a daily basis.

And not only is he well-respected by his former players, so do most others in the high school coaching fraternity.

“In a game of fundamentals and number-crunching, I believe that baseball coaches can get lost in a player’s skill development and performance,” Buford coach Stuart Chester said. “I think sometimes our priorities can be focused on the player and lose sight of the person. Chris Akridge does not fall in this category.  Every team he puts on the field is hard-nosed and exemplifies how to respect the game and play it with passion and class.  Players who have played for Coach Akridge improve their skill level and knowledge of the game. 

“The greatest quality a player walks away with is they become a better person.  I think the biggest compliment is for a parent to want their child to play for a certain coach.  I know I would be honored if my son played for Chris Akridge.  High school baseball is a better place because of Coach Akridge.

Last year, Akridge overcame a serious battle with Covid-19 that hospitalized him for two weeks, then he spent two weeks at home recovering before returning to school.

A devout Christian, Akridge is grateful, and he never takes coaching and building positive relationships for granted.

“I want to win and I strive to win, but for me, the relationships are the best part, and I’ve certainly been blessed to be here at Habersham Central for as long as I have,” he said. “But that is only by God’s grace and mercy and any positive quality or trait that I have is only because of him."