Donnie Branch: LaGrange High School

Donnie Branch

LaGrange High School was well known for its powerhouse football and boys basketball programs. Donnie Branch made sure the school had a powerhouse baseball program during his tenure. Branch was inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame in 2009.
In 24 seasons of leading the Grangers, Branch finished with a 519-241 mark. He led LaGrange to a state championship in 2004 and his team's made seven appearances in the state semifinals when many of his teams played up in the state's highest classification. The Grangers won six region titles.
"One of the things I'm most proud of, and I'm not making excuses, is the success we had when we played up in classification when we should have been playing in like Class AA," Branch said. "We had a lot of good players here."
Branch was named Class AAAA Coach of the Year in 1995 and Class AAA Coach of the Year in 2004. He coached the Georgia Dugout Club's Southwest Georgia All-Stars on multiple occasions, and he also served on the Team Georgia Board for many seasons.

After a collegiate baseball career at North Alabama, the Anniston, Ala. native earned his master's in Health and Physical Education from Troy before earning his first head baseball coaching job at Wheeler County High School in 1984. He coached there two seasons before leaving for LaGrange where he was an assistant baseball coach from 1987 to 1989.
During Branch's time, he was also a successful defensive coordinator where he helped LaGrange win four state football titles. He was named as the head football coach in 2011 and he coached both football and baseball. He retired from baseball after the 2012 season.
He also organized the prestigious LaGrange Invitational Tournament while guiding the baseball program. The tournament was known as one of the best weekend tournaments in the Southeast and it annually brought in some of the nation's top players and teams.
Branch also sent many players to college and a handful of his players played professionally. One of those included former Seattle Mariners All-Star Mike Cameron.
"Above all, Coach Branch and his coaching staff modeled the kind of honesty, integrity, and values that are characteristic of LaGrange High School and the LaGrange High School coaching staff," former LaGrange High School principal Steve Cole said.