New Fighting Scots football coach Richard Bailey missed only a single practice throughout his 12 year career at Jack Britt High School, and it was for good reason.
Coach Bailey and wife Laura celebrated the birth of their son Carson on December 9th, 2008, the very same week that a December 14th meeting between the Jack Britt Buccaneers and Richmond Raiders would decide the 2008-09 state 4-AA champion. Five days after Carson’s birth, Laura would be in attendance at that game, which saw Richmond narrowly edge Jack Britt by a score of 38-35.
As Carson grew up, he found himself a regular at Buccaneer practices and games, often hoisted up on the shoulders of the very same players who helped build the Jack Britt football team into a perennial powerhouse in just a few short years. And it is this family atmosphere that the Baileys intend on bringing to a Scotland squad that is fresh off its most successful season to date.
“I always thought of myself as a second mom to the players on the team, and there wasn’t a single person in the program that I didn’t trust with my son,” said Laura Bailey, who also prided herself on preparing the pre-game meals for the Buccaneers every Friday evening. “I’d really like to have the same role in Scotland County and truly be immersed in the community, because that’s what’s really important to me.”
“It’s all about building players on a personal level, because you’ll get that much more out of them if they know that you truly care about them and their direction in life,” Coach Bailey said. “My wife and I are going to invest a lot in this community and try to be a positive influence in our player’s lives.”
The Bailey family has been synonymous with Jack Britt since it opened in 2000, having been part of the academic and athletic growth of the school every step of the way. While Coach Bailey was compiling a career win-loss record of 119-44, wife Laura was involved with nearly every facet of the school, including tenures as a 10th grade English teacher, director of the school’s engineering academy and numerous extracurricular activities.
Honing the balance between student and athlete has always been the sole priority for the Bailey family, as is the ability to provide a window for the students under their watch to find success once they walk the graduation stage.
“It’s always been of greatest importance to us as husband and wife to produce well-rounded student athletes,” Laura Bailey said. “We want every single student that crosses our path to understand the importance of becoming a productive member of society after their football career finishes.”
To see what the Buccaneer community truly meant to the Baileys, look no further than their son’s name: Carson Britt. And while that factored into Coach Bailey’s final decision, it was the “once in a lifetime” opportunity to make the journey to Scotland County that proved too good to pass up.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life, and there were a lot of tears and difficult phone calls involved,” Coach Bailey said. “But being the coach of the Fighting Scots is a job that doesn’t come around that often, and it was the right choice and right time for me.”
As he prepares to make the move to Laurinburg, Coach Bailey cites the camaraderie shared by the entirety of Scotland County as his biggest cause for excitement. Gone are the days of competing against the 10 other high schools in Cumberland County that was a part of the Jack Britt job description.
Here in Scotland County, the hearts of the Fighting Scots’ loyal fanbase beat as one.
“Everyone in this county is pulling together for a common cause, which is to be successful,” Coach Bailey said. “When you do things for the football program here, everyone is happy that you took the initiative to help make the team better, and that’s a big deal to me.”
Though he believes he is leaving behind a Buccaneer squad that is primed to win right away, Coach Bailey sees the chance to achieve even greater success in Scotland and accomplish the one thing that has thus far eluded him: a state championship.
And to get a feel for what to expect come August, Coach Bailey visited McCoy Field Tuesday night to see the hundreds of fans in attendance cheer the Scotland baseball team on to a huge playoff win. When he saw their enthusiasm, Coach Bailey knew that the passion lying at the heart of the community would help him achieve all he’s ever envisioned as a coach.
“I’ve never seen a crowd like that, the passion was truly evident,” he said. “You hear people from all over talk about the atmosphere in Scotland when Friday nights roll around, because everyone here cares so much about football. I’ll take the expectations that come with being the coach of the Fighting Scots any day if it means sending that crowd home happy.”