More Than a Game of Baseball
Tuesday, March 5th, there will be a baseball game played at Westside High School as the Rams host Easley for both teams opening Region 1, 5A season series. On this day, it will be more than a game of baseball being played at Westside. On this day, father and son will be in opposite dugouts for the first time in over 20 years. As fate, or the baseball gods would have it, two first year South Carolina head coaches opening their region schedule, Jarrod Payne at Westside and his father Gill Payne at Easley, will face off with their teams on the diamond.
“Honestly, this is something that I never imagined would happen”, commented Easley Head Coach Gill Payne. “Jarrod has been in my dugout and around my programs for over 20 years. From batboy and PA announcer at Brevard College to shortstop on my high school teams in Tennessee, Jarrod and I have always been on the same team. When this scenario developed over late summer, I think we both were surprised to see on the schedule that we opened up regular season against each other, I mean what are the chances of that happening?”
“It is difficult, because many of my philosophies mirror what I watched work for my Dad, both at the high school and at the college levels,” remarked Coach Jarrod Payne. “Watching his teams care about each other, win championships together, and then being able to be a part of some of those teams as a player; that was what really made me want to become a coach.”
Although similar in the timing of it all, the two coaches are in significantly different situations according to the state of their respective programs. Coach Jarrod Payne is taking over a program in a rebuilding mode at Westside where Coach Gill Payne is taking over a perennial winning program over the past few decades in Easley. “Jarrod has a great opportunity at Westside. He has unbelievable facilities to go along with a great support system from Coach Teague. He is going to be able to change the culture of the program through his philosophy. We talk a lot and he understands that it is a work in progress but mark my words, it will happen, he will bring a winning tradition to Westside Baseball.”
“I think Easley is as good of a situation as dad has ever been in as a head coach. He is taking over a program with phenomenal kids that know how to win, and I would like to think that I had a small hand in getting it to that point as an assistant coach the past couple of seasons. It’s a great community with a solid support system, and I hope that over time we can build that sort of reputation for success here at Westside.”
As for the game on Tuesday, both coaches are excited but at the same time feel a little dreadful of the scenario. “We are both competitive and love to win but one of us will leave the field defeated on Tuesday,” commented Coach Gill Payne. “Believe me, we have had long conversations throughout the years analyzing tough losses but never as the other being the victor. Both Jarrod and I are head coaches, love our players, and will compete like crazy against each other next week. The one I worry about is Jarrod’s mother. I am not sure who Carol is going to be pulling for come first pitch!”