Border Battle 2009: SC/NC Coaches Bio’s


-Team South Carolina Coaches-

Blank-stride.JPGJeff Blankenship – Wando High School

Coach Blankenship (107-20) is beginning his 5th year at Wando High School as Head Varsity Baseball Coach and entering his 10th year of High School Coaching. Originally from Matthews, North Carolina, Coach Blankenship is a graduate of the College of Charleston earning a BA Degree in 2000 and earned a Masters in Educational Leadership from the Citadel in 2008. He was a Varsity Assistant for 5 years and the Head Junior Varsity Coach for 3 years at Wando while also coaching for the Mount Pleasant Diamond Warriors during the summers. Coach Blankenship teaches in the Social Studies Department and is the Curriculum Coordinator for US History CP and the History of Conflict and War. Coach Blankenship and his wife, Jennifer, have a 7-month old son named Jake.

Championships Won by Year: 2006: Sertoma Preseason Classic, Region VII, District VII. 2007: Sertoma Preseason Classic, Hanahan Invitational Tournament, Region VII. 2008: Hanahan Invitational Tournament, District V. 2009: International Papermill Classic, Region VII, District VII, Lower State.

Hucks-stride.JPGBrian Hucks – Brookland-Cayce High School

Coach Hucks is a 1991 graduate of Lexington High School. While at Lexington, he was a four-year letterman in baseball and a three-year letterman in football. Coach Hucks attended the University of South Carolina after stops at Anderson Junior College and Campbell University. He was a three year letterman in baseball at USC as well as a tri-captain his senior year. Coach Hucks graduated from USC in 1996 with a B.S. degree in physical education. He was drafted in the 31st round of the major league baseball draft by the Cincinnati Reds where he played in the minor league system through 1997.
Coach Hucks is beginning his 11th season as head coach at Brookland-Cayce High school. His overall record at B.C. is 218-86. His teams have produced region champions in 2000, 2002, 2004 (co), 2005, 2006 (co), 2007, and 2008. His 2000 and 2008 teams captured the AAA state championship. Coach Hucks was named region coach of the year in 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. He was the AAA state coach of the year in 2000 and 2008, as well as the statewide coach of the year in 2008. In Coach Hucks ten years at Brookland-Cayce, he has had 34 players sign athletic grant-in-aids to further their baseball career collegiately. Thirteen of his players have been selected to play in the North/South All-Star game.
Coach Hucks is married to the former Stephanie Smith of Pickens, SC. They have 2 children, Caroline (7) and Jackson (2).

HortonD-pen.JPGDavid Horton – Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School

After graduating from Bishopville High School where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball, Coach Horton attended Newberry College where he pitched for the Indians for four years. At Newberry he majored in Science and he later attended Appalachian State University to earn his degree in Physical Education. For the past 40 years Coach Horton has been the head baseball coach at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School. During those 40 years he has compiled 816 wins and 243 losses. Under his leadership, the Red Raiders have won 14 State Championships–at one point winning 8 consecutive state titles, which tied the national record. Coach Horton has been named National Coach of The Year in both the ABCA and the NHSACA Baseball organizations. He was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in l998. Notable former players include Mookie Wilson and Preston Wilson.

Coach Horton is married to the former Susan Williamson of Asheboro, NC. They have one daughter, Jennifer, who resides in Suwanee, GA with her husband Joe Baweja. His two grandsons, Lawson (10) and Brodie (3) are his pride and joy.

BatesC-3B.JPGChris Bates – Rock Hill High School

Coach Bates (192-31) is entering his first year as Head Coach of the Rock Hill Bearcats after spending a year as an Assistant Coach at Brookland-Cayce High School.  From 2002-2008, he served as the Head Coach of the Riverside Warriors where they won 7 Region Titles, 7 District Championships, 3 Upper-State Titles, 3 State Championships, and were Upper-State Runner-up 3 times. The Warriors were ranked nationally 5 of those 7 years, and a preseason number 1 national ranking in 2004. Coach Bates has won 3 State Coach of the Year Awards and has coached 4 State Players of the Year. In 2004, he was named National District 3 coach of the year. During those 7 years, he had 12 players selected for State All-Star Games, 26 All-State selections, 24 sign college scholarships, 4 All-Americans, 1 Olympian, and 4 players Drafted by the Major Leagues.   

Coach Bates began coaching baseball and football in 1996 at Eastside High School, where he was an assistant for two years. He then became an assistant baseball coach at Riverside under Don Miller in 1998. He also served as an assistant football coach at Riverside. From 1998 to 1999 Coach Bates served as the head coach of the Golden Strip American Legion Post 176 baseball program, where they won two League IX championships compiling a 38-10 record. He has since worked with the SC Diamond Devils, SC Spirit, Greenville Gators, Team Carolina, and the SC Bombers Baseball programs during his summers. 

Coach Bates graduated from Mauldin High School in 1991, where he lettered in baseball and football. After graduation, he earned a BA degree in Sports Management in 1995 from Belmont Abbey College. He was a four-year starter on the Crusader baseball team and a two-time captain. In 1998, he earned a degree in Physical Education from USC-Spartanburg.

-Team North Carolina Coaches-

Greg Simmons – Charlotte Christian High School

*  BS from Liberty University. Played baseball 1986-1988. Grad Asst 1989

*  20th year at Charlotte Christian and 18th year as head baseball coach. 411-167-1

* 9 State Tiles and 12 Conference titles.

* 4 Charlotte Observer Sweet 16 titles. (Top HS program in the papers area)

* 4 Charlotte Observer COY (2000,2002,2006 and 2009)

* ABCA Region COY 2003 and 2009

* ABCA National HS COY 2003

* NCSAA National COY 2009

* 2009 team finished rank #13 by Baseball America, # 18 by USA Today and #21 by Collegiate Baseball

* Notable former player includes Boston Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard

*Wife of 20 years is Renee’ and three boys, Tyler 17, Matt 15 and Hank 14.  

Tom Willoughby – Pine Forest High School

Originally from Waldwick NJ, Tom played football, basketball and baseball at Waldwick High School. He then played baseball at Methodist College in Fayetteville, NC where he pitched for Coach Tom Austin. Following graduation, Coach Willoughby was the Varsity Assistant Coach/Pitching Coach for three years at Pine Forest High School under Doug Simmons. In 2005 Tom was hiring as Head Coach and is now going into his 6th year for the Trojans.

Tom Willoughby was the Head Coach for Region 4 in the NC State Games 2009.

Willoughby has also been the Head Coach for the 16-Under Hurricanes Showcase team in the Summer and Fall for the past two years. Tom is also an Associate Scout for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Randy Pope – West Forsyth High School

Coach Pope finished his 26th official year (28 total) of coaching high school baseball. This will be his 12th year as the head coach for the Titans. The 2002 team was runner-up in the state 4-A division. They went 27-4 and won the Western Regional Championship. The 2005 team finished 20-10 and made it to the final 4 in the state. The 2007 team was 20-6, was ranked in the top 20 in the country, and won the CPC title. The 2008 team went 16-9 and won the WSFC tournament. Pope’s overall record at West Forsyth is 207-81 (winning %.712) They have won conference titles in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and tournament titles in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009. They have qualified for the State playoffs in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

Prior to coming to West in 1992, Coach Pope was a teacher and coach at East Davidson, Ledford and Monroe. Coach Pope has also coached 9 years of American Legion, and 21 years of Football.

In 1986 he served as a Graduate Assistant at Western Carolina, where he also played. While there, he worked under Coach Jack Leggett (Clemson Head Coach), and coached Keith Leclair (Former WCU/ECU Head Coach) and Keith Shumate (NC A&T Head Coach). Coach Pope helped lead the Catamounts to the Southern Conference Title. He was in charge of the hitters and catchers.

Pope had the unique opportunity to coach against the Russian Army team in 1992, while at East Davidson.

Coach Pope has been part of 15 Conference Championships, and has been to the State Playoffs 17 times. He has had over 60 players continue on to play at the college level (35+ as head coach) and 10 make it to the Professional ranks. He was named CPC coach of the year in 2002 and 2004.

Coach Pope was involved in the State Games of North Carolina for 4 years. As an assistant coach for (2 years) the Region 5 team won a silver medal (in 2003). Serving as the Head Coach in 2004 the Region 5 Team also won a Silver Medal. In 2005 Coach Pope was an Assistant Coach for the West team that won the East/West All-Star series 3 games to none. In 2008 Pope was named as one of the coaches for Team North Carolina, for the North Carolina/South Carolina Baseball Classic. It was the first time Team North Carolina swept the series.  

Coach Pope is married to Deborah C. Pope. Debbie is a teacher, and coaches the cheerleaders (8 time State Champions- 7 consecutive), at Ledford High School. They have 3 dogs Lola, Henry and Scooter.