Joe Monmonier spent the last several weeks poring over nearly 30 resumes from across South Carolina and Georgia. The Hilton Head Island High athletics director eventually settled on five candidates to bring in for interviews, hoping to find the one who would become the next head coach of the Seahawks baseball program.
Turns out he had his man all along.
Blair Carson, who handled the club in the interim last season following the resignation of coach Chris Wells, was officially named the next leader of the Hilton Head High baseball team this week after receiving approval from the Beaufort County School District on Monday.
"I wanted to make a legitimate search," Monmonier said Tuesday. "We wanted to make sure our guy is the right guy. We wanted to look at what was out there and if we thought there was a better fit for our program."
There wasn't. The 25-year-old Carson guided the Seahawks to a 10-4 record and a co-Region 8-AAA championship after taking over the team on March 26, when Wells was first suspended following the revelation that S.C. High School League rules had been breached for the second time in less than a year.
Carson, a physical education teacher at Hilton Head Island Middle School, had been wishing for some time now that the job would soon be his before finally receiving confirmation this week.
"I wasn't assuming anything, but I was hoping," he said. "Just because I knew the guys and have a good relationship with a lot of the parents. Things were already in place."
Carson is ready to live his dream. The former Anderson University standout, who played at Westside High School in Anderson and spent two seasons in the Cincinnati Reds farm system, has known for some time that coaching was his calling.
"In high school, that was my goal," he said. "It really was. I was lucky enough to go on to college and play pro ball. That was one of the reasons why I got out as early as I did in pro ball, to start my coaching career."
He showed his qualifications for the job early on to Monmonier and Hilton Head High principal Amanda O'Nan, corralling a group of Seahawks still reeling from Wells' departure before leading them to a spot in the Class 3-A playoffs.
Carson "established himself in the face of crisis when he stood up," Monmonier said. "He was the one that came to the forefront and took responsibility. I feel he did a great job."
Not everything came easy though. He was quickly entrusted with the handling of the Seahawks' traditional spring break tournament, juggling schedules for several out of town teams, and learned the administrative side of the job on the fly as the season progressed.
"As each day went by, it got easier," he said. "Just like anything else, with experience and everything it starts to slow down a little bit. But with baseball, that was pretty seamless."
He had help. Carson kept in frequent contact with Wells, a close friend that helped guide him through the early rigors of coaching. Wells, who compiled a 271-122 record in 15-plus seasons with the Seahawks, will likely continue to be a close confidant of Carson's as he transitions into the full-time coach.
"He's been very helpful," Carson said. "He's been more than happy to hand me over like a template of schedules or whatever I might need help (with). He made sure that when all that was happening, he wanted me calling about stuff like that. That's been very helpful.
"When that transition did take place, everyone was super helpful from the parents to the administration at the high school. I had a lot of support, which I'm very thankful for."
Carson hopes to implement a "blue collar style" for his teams, a hard-working bunch that hopefully plays the game fast. It's an attitude he began to create quickly after taking over last season.
" ... Give it all you've got on each play," he said. "That's how I grew up and learned how to play. I think it's a good way for high school kids to learn, so you really focus on the fundamentals and you're just outworking everyone."
The Blair Carson File
- Went 10-4 as the Hilton Head High interim coach in 2013, guiding the Seahawks to a co-Region 8-AAA championship and a berth in the Class 3-A playoffs.
- Graduated from Anderson (S.C.) University in 2009, where he played baseball for the Division II Trojans. He is also a graduate of Westside High School in Anderson.
- Drafted in the 42nd round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Cincinnati Reds. Compiled a career 6-12 record and a 3.93 ERA in 151 innings in his Minor League career, which spanned three leagues over 2009 and 2010.
- 25-year-old is married to wife Chelsea Carson.