Family takes precedence over coaching for Bates

COVINGTON -- Coaching baseball at Alcovy is where head coach Casey Bates wants to be. However, the desire to be closer to his daughter clearly outweighed the his wants as he resigned his position.

"I wasn't going to leave (Alcovy) for just any job. A social studies position and a head baseball job came up at Pickens County High School in Jasper," Bates said. "We're going to be 15 minutes from Pickens County and 15 minutes from her (daughter)."

Bates had wanted to leave Alcovy for two years ever since his daughter moved. Even though he would stay in Covington if he could, not spending time with his daughter and not seeing her as much as he wanted was too much.

"It was tough when she started playing sports and I would go there for the weekend," Bates said. "I wasn't getting her for long periods of time. I was only seeing her about four to six times a month and that wasn't working out. I was used to seeing her all the time."

His feelings for his players was so strong that before he gave Pickens County an affirmative answer he made sure that his team was going to be taken care of first. Bates sat down with Tigers athletic director Greg Burnette to discuss how to keep the team heading in the right direction.

Bates has experienced leaving a position he liked for family. He left a head coaching position in Rabun County to head to South Gwinnett. Just like before, he made sure his team was taken care of before heading out.

"That's the hardest part about coaching, no matter what. When you're there you develop friendships with kids and you have to leave. You just have to do what's best for your family and do what you can to leave the program in good hands," Bates said.

Unlike some coaches who leave because they lose talent or it's not the best situation for them anymore, the future for the Tigers baseball team looks bright. Besides having a group of extremely talented freshmen and sophomores, he also has a group talented and experienced upperclassmen including Dalton Reagin and Tristan Payne, giving him hope for the upcoming seasons.

"I'm going to stay in contact with them. I've told those kids in the past that if they play for me I'm never done with them," Bates said. "Some of those guys want to play college baseball, so I'm still going to talk to college coaches for them. They're part of us, so I'm going to be a part of their lives as far as that goes."

One thing that makes Bates feel endeared to his players and them to him is that his players know he really cares about them outside the field. He monitored the behavior in the classroom as well as how they did academically. But it did not stop there. He also made sure they behaved outside of halls and grounds of the school.

"Those kids did more than playing baseball. I want them to be part of the program, not just part of the team. I've actually coached some of the best kids I've coached here at Alcovy. I've been at four schools and these are the best kids here at Alcovy," Bates said.

In his five years as Alcovy's head coach, Bates led the team to three trips to the playoffs where they made it to the second round twice before being eliminated and to the third round once.

Even though Bates has never made it to the championship game, he said he does not have any regrets in his time at Alcovy.

"If you have regrets then you shouldn't be in this type of profession. Everybody wants to win a state championship. It's like I tell the kids, there's only one team that's going to be happy at the end of the season." Bates said.

"If you can get the kids on board to what you're doing and trying to accomplish, they're the one's doing all the work, you're just guiding them in the right direction. My five years as head coach at Alcovy, those kids got on board and I got them in the right direction."