For the past 20 seasons, Fighting Scots baseball coach Tommy Britt has taken pride in not just the wealth of talent that has played for him, but the academic accomplishments those players earned under his watch.
But as son Curt makes preparations to attend the University of South Carolina in the fall on a full athletic scholarship, Britt realized that the dedication required to keep the Fighting Scots a perennial playoff team would spread him too thin come the spring 2013 season.
While he will remain the athletic director of Scotland High School, Britt officially resigned as head baseball coach of the Fighting Scots on Monday.
“Leaving after this season was my intention from the get-go, because 20 years is a good number to go out on and plus I want to see my son Curt play baseball,” Britt said. “It wouldn’t be fair to this school if I didn’t give my all to the baseball program in the years to come, and while I’m extremely sad about my decision, I know it was the right one.”
Britt follows on the heels of former Scotland football coach Chip Williams, who retired last month after helping the Fighting Scots win their first-ever 4-A football state championship last fall.
Resuming coaching duties in the spring of 1993, Britt has led the Fighting Scots to the playoffs in 18 of his 20 seasons, with 12 SEC conference titles to his credit. Compiling a career record of 368-132, Britt also competed for two 4-A state baseball championships during his tenure: The first was a loss to New Hanover in 1994, his second year as the Fighting Scots’ coach.
His second time on the big stage is Britt’s fondest memory of his coaching career, as the Fighting Scots overcame South Caldwell and current San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner in a best-of-three series to secure the state championship victory in 2006.
Yet when he looks back at his time at Scotland, there is one number that stands out most for Britt: 66. That is the number of players that have earned athletic scholarships as members of the Fighting Scots during Britt’s 20 years as coach. And of those 66, two have moved on to play Major League Baseball: Russ Adams and Brent Butler.
“Many of the guys I’ve seen graduate and play at the next level still send Christmas cards and practice with the team in the off-season,” Britt said. “Seeing your players play at the next level is what it’s all about, and to know that I’ve possibly made an impact on these young men’s lives is the most important thing I’ve done as a coach here.”
Of equal importance to Britt are the players and staff that have worked with him over the years, which he credits as the driving force behind the 20-year success of the Scotland baseball program. Several of Britt’s former players have since become members of the Scotland coaching staff, including current men’s track coach Will Clark Jr., as well as baseball assistant coaches Stewart Redding and Jamie Coleman, the latter of whom was Britt’s first all-state player in 1993.
“It’s amazing to see those I’ve coached have the desire to return back and help continue our successful sports track record at Scotland,” Britt said. “That’s what has been the most fun out of all this, having the chance to hire coaches that learned under you, and I’m really blessed to have had the opportunity to coach Scotland long enough to be given that chance.”
“I’m forever indebted to the coaches that have helped me since day one, who knows where Scotland baseball would be if I didn’t have these people in my corner,” he said.
His numerous on-field accomplishments notwithstanding, Britt has lived by a single motto, a motto that he has tried to instill in every player that wore a Fighting Scots uniform during his career: “Make good decisions and do what’s right.” And if nothing else, Britt wants to be remembered for his desire to mold not just standout student athletes, but standout citizens that can make a positive impact in the world.
“I’ve preached that motto to my athletes for 20 years, and if we all made good decisions and did what’s right, the world would be better for it,” Britt said. “If these kids want to be great students and productive citizens in life, they just have to remember that motto.”