As expected, Hilton Head Island High took the interim tag off baseball coach Blair Carson, who was named the full-time leader of the Seahawks baseball program earlier this week. You can read my story on that decision here.
Carson, a 25-year-old graduate of Westside High School and Anderson University, steps into his first head coaching gig after guiding Hilton Head High to a 10-4 record and a co-Region 8-AAA championship in 2013 following the resignation of Chris Wells.
The former Cincinnati Reds farmhand will spend the next several weeks putting together a schedule for the 2014 season and will also continue piecing together his roster and coaching staff. The latter seems well in hand, as Carson confirmed that all assistants have expressed interest in returning.
"It's easier on the boys more so than us coaches," he said. " Luckily all the guys that we already had here have agreed to come back next year. There will be a lot of familiar faces. There won't be a whole overhaul of new faces coaching-wise for the guys."
The schedule seems to be the top priority for Carson. He plans to contact all the usual suspects once the region slate is released. He also expressed interest in putting together a preseason tournament at Hilton Head High, but that has yet to become official.
"That is agenda No. 1," he said. "That's one thing. As soon as I hear our region schedule for next year, I'll start trying to fill in the non-region schedule with the Beauforts and Battery Creeks, the local teams we normally play. And then go ahead and try to schedule that spring break tournament like we do."
That spring break tournament was quite the challenge for Carson last season, as he took over the program following Wells' departure right as the eight-team field appeared ready to flock to Hilton Head Island. It was all a process for Carson as he continued to learn the executive side of coaching.
"The baseball part was what I expected. Baseball is baseball," he said. "The timing of it was right before the spring break tournament. Having eight teams in from out of town, that was tough. Getting the numbers together, trying to communication with the coaches, BP times. That was the tough part about it."
He's young, certainly. But Wells was around the same age that Carson was when he took over, before stepping away after 15-plus seasons with the Seahawks.
"I'm just very thankful to (principal Amanda) O'Nan and (athletics director) Joe (Monmonier) to give me an opportunity at this age, because although my baseball playing experience might be good on paper, I know my coaching experience, 25 is still young," he said. "I owe a big thanks to them in trusting me with a good program."
His work with the team in times of crisis made him an easy decision, Monmonier said.
"It's great that it worked out having someone here that's already here taking over the helm," he noted, "He did a great job as an assistant coach and showed extreme leadership when things went south."
Wells was often confused for a player during his earlier years with the Seahawks, Carson said. But the new Seahawks' coach doesn't seem to have that problem.
"I don't get that, for some reason," he said, laughing. "I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I'm losing my hair."