Two varsity head coach changes are in the works at Bryan County High School.
For softball, Al Butler is replacing Kim Covington. For boys’ basketball, Ron Lewis is replacing Keith Bazemore.
Butler was named as the new BCHS softball coach in March, several months after Covington stepped down for family reasons. He is also the head baseball coach. He is stepping into some big shoes as Covington just topped off her best of four successful seasons with a trip to the Elite Eight.
"I feel fantastic about the decision to bring Al in," Covington said. "It’s a very good move by Coach Lewis and the administration. Al and I share a lot of the same values and I couldn’t be happier about him taking the program. Redskin softball is always going to be a part of me and I will always be a part of it. I will miss it, but I will always be a Redskin and I look forward to next season. We’re still in good hands."
Assistant Coach Karen Lynn is staying on while baseball’s Daniel Kaufman will be joining the coaching staff as well.
"The previous coaching staff has done a phenomenal job and their record speaks for itself. The fastpitch program right now is at the highest level it’s ever been and that’s a lot of pressure, but I feel I’m up to the challenge. I see the talent level that’s coming up right now and there is enough there to do great things."
Butler coached softball for two years at Jenkins High School and has continually coached at the rec and travel ball level for his daughters’ teams.
"I know it is very different from baseball," Butler said. "It is a lot faster paced and can actually be more exciting. I mean everything is right there in front of you with the smaller field. I do realize it is going to be a challenge to shift from varsity boys to girls, but I plan to give all I’ve got to both."
Meanwhile, for boys’ basketball, Bazemore said he is taking some time off from the demanding world of coaching in order to spend more time with his family. He has been coaching for the past 13 years, with the last three at BCHS.
"I did a lot of soul searching over spring break," Bazemore said. "I don’t want to give it up all together, but I’m looking at taking a six-year vacation from coaching. I’m excited about the prospect of being around my kids more. My daughter will be a senior this year and I have 12-year-old twins. Summer is just about as busy as through the year, so I figured I had better go ahead and do it now. I’ve been able to take up some fishing, and I’ve got one boy in travel baseball which keeps me running."
Bazemore said he is remaining in the school district and still plans to go to attend many of the games.
Also gone is Bazemore’s assistant Steven Jarrell. Coach Mario Mincey will now fill that role in addition to his head duties on the girls’ team. Coach Blake Nesmith has committed to helping out the team as well.
Lewis said taking the head coaching spot is slated to be an interim deal as he searches for a new coach through the coming year. Lewis is currently the BCHS athletic director and head football coach. He recently was honored as the Class-A Athletic Director of the Year for the state of Georgia. He was the assistant boys’ basketball coach of the 1996 BCHS team – the year they went to state.
"I’m excited and apprehensive about it at the same time," Lewis said. "We wanted Keith to stay on, but we’re making due. It was just so late in the process that we didn’t have the opportunity to find the right person yet. I’m looking for someone to be involved totally in this program. We had some candidates available, but they didn’t have the availability for the time that it’s going to take for this program."
Lewis said the team is aware of his temporary status and summer practice, which recently concluded, went well.
"We’ve got some great kids on this team," Lewis said. "I’m up for the challenge and willing to do whatever it takes for this program to succeed. It’s easier to take it for one year and have people apply as opposed to just appointing someone. It will pay off in the long run."
Meanwhile, BCHS track will see some change as girls’ head coach Charles Davis is moving out of the area. Boys’ coach Blake Nesmith will head up the girls as well with Mincey to assist.
Coaching is not the only change this coming season as Region 3-A has a new line-up of schools that BCHS will play. It is now split into two subregions. Subregion A includes Bryan County, Calvary Day, Claxton, Portal, Savannah Christian and Savannah Country Day while Subregion B will have ECI, Jenkins County, Metter, Montgomery County, Treutlen and Wheeler County. Every sport but football will also include Johnson County and Telfair County.