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Richmond Hill athletic director Bayens retires
Mickey Bayens
Mickey Bayens

One of the state’s top all-around athletic programs will be under new leadership when school resumes in August.

Mickey Bayens, who has been athletic director at Richmond Hill High School for the past nine years, retired as an assistant principal and AD effective July 1. He was replaced by Stacy Bennett who has been Bayens’ assistant since 2019 after nine years as head baseball coach.

“I know I can walk away knowing it is in great hands,” Bayens said. “Stacy Bennett will only elevate Richmond Hill High School. It’s hard to believe my tenure has ended.”

Bennett will be heading up an athletic program that has finished in the top 10 of the Georgia High School Directors Cup standings every year since 2017. Points are awarded to schools for region championships and success in state playoffs.

This year Richmond Hill finished eighth with the boys ranked sixth and the girls seventh highlighted by winning seven region championships: boys and girls cross country, boys and girls track and field, girls lacrosse, girls soccer and baseball.

In 2015 the Wildcats ranked 44th in Class 5A in the Directors Cup standings, 28th in 2016 and since then the school has had seventh, eighth, fifth, third and fifth place finishes. The boys program was number one in 2020 and the girls were seventh leading to the third-place ranking.

“As an athletic director you take pride in seeing Richmond Hill High School rise up the ranks in the Directors Cup standings, to see us hold our own with the metro Atlanta schools,” Bayens said. “It makes them pay attention to Richmond Hill.”

Mixed in with the professional pride there have also been moments of personal pride, too. None were greater than when the 2019 football team advanced to the Final Four of the Class 6A state playoffs.

“I’ll personally cherish that memory because my son Buck was on that team,” Bayens said. “That was really special to see for the school, community and team. But his being on that team made it a little more special.”

Bayens has had a hand in hiring every current coach and he has especially impacted boys basketball coach Bill Henderson who has known Bayens since he was a youngster.

“I grew up going to the “Bayens Baseball Camp” and was able to play baseball for Coach Bayens when I was in high school,” Henderson said. “One thing I always remember is the emphasis Coach Bayens put on doing things and playing the game the right way.

“As athletic director I feel like he has had that same expectation for players and coaches,” Henderson said. “He was super supportive of all the players and coaches.

“He was Richmond Hill all the time and he set a great example of how players and coaches should represent Richmond Hill High School.”

Bayens had two stints at Richmond Hill with the first starting in 1994 when he was hired as a history teacher and head baseball coach following graduation at Georgia Southern. In 2002 he went to Liberty County as an assistant principal at Bradwell Institute and Director of Transportation.

“I had done my student teaching at Richmond Hill and (principal) Miller Morris hired me,” Bayens said. “We were Class A then. There have been trials and tribulations as we have grown but we embraced the challenges.”

Bayens returned In 2011 when then principal Helen Herndon hired him as assistant principal and athletic director. In 2013 with the school growing and the sports program expanding he became a full-time athletic director. 

Richmond Hill will begin competition in Class 7A this fall. The school fields 28 teams in GHSA sanctioned sports. “One third of our kids (nearly 800 students) are on a team,” Bayens said. “For those who are not on a team we have 50 clubs and organizations. Every student walking the halls here has an opportunity to be a part of something.”

As to Bennett stepping in Bayens’ shoes there’s no doubt in Henderson’s mind it was the right choice.

“I’ve known Stacy since I came back to coach at Richmond Hill,” Henderson said. “I was fortunate enough to be an assistant on his baseball staff my first few years. It was a great chance for me to see how a top notch program was run.

“Stacy always placed an emphasis on creating a great culture. I’ve been able to apply a lot of things I learned watching him run his program to our basketball program. I’m excited for him to have the opportunity to lead us into the future.”

In his nine years as head baseball coach, Bennett, who taught at Long County for one year before being hired at Richmond Hill, had a 162-96 record –120-59 the last six seasons—that included four straight region championships.

Bennett’s wife is Richmond Hill Middle School principal Dr. Elizabeth Bennett and they have two sons, Brody and Carson. Bennett was a catcher at Armstrong Atlantic State University and played three years in the New York Mets system before turning to coaching.

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