By Chris McCarthy Publisher/Editor
Mike Lamb isn’t ready to step away from the diamond just yet.
The former Westbrook Christian and Gaston High head baseball coach recently was named to direct the Southside baseball program.
Lamb, who coached the Rainbow Middle School baseball team for the past five years, said it was an easy decision to take the job after Blake Bone resigned last month.
“This a job I’ve always wanted,” said Lamb, a P.E. teacher at SHS. “Me and Blake are good friends, and I told him to let me know whenever he felt like stepping down. I love the kids out here, and it’s a baseball town. Blake has built an outstanding program. It’s a lot different at 6A than it is at 2A, so I told Blake I’d be calling on him from time to time.”
In 10 years at his alma mater, Bone guided the Panthers to 10 playoff appearances, three semifinal berths, nine area championships and eight county tournaments. His 2011 squad finished as Class 5A state runner-up. Only two of Bone’s teams failed to advance past the first round of the postseason.
“Ten years is a long time and it was a good run, and I just thought that it was just time to do something different for a little bit,” said Bone. “I’ve got two young children that need my attention, so that was a factor, too. I know that Mike will want to put his own stamp on the program, and it helps with him being around the kids and being familiar with them and knowing how they handle certain situations.”
SHS principal Chris Winningham believes the transition will be an easy one given that Lamb has already coached most of the school’s current varsity players.
“I think this group of seniors were Coach Lamb’s first kids at the middle school, and the kids are excited to see a familiar face,” said Winningham. “He’s been a head coach at a few local schools, so he’s got the pedigree. But I think the most impressive thing that Coach Lamb will bring discipline and things they can take away for life lessons. I’m excited to see where the program goes under him.”
Lamb is well aware that Southside is expected to field a competitive team every year and relishes the challenge of continuing that success. This past season, the Panthers went 22-12 and made it to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
“That’s certainly on my mind; we’ve just keep it going and improve on what Blake built on,” he said. “I’m real excited about and I’m looking forward to working with all of the boys I’ve coached in junior high. I just want our kids to play hard and enjoy the game.”
Lamb coached at Westbrook from 2002 to 2005, winning two area championships and qualifying for the state playoffs three times. From 2006-12 at Gaston, Lamb’s teams went 66-47, made the playoffs six times and won three straight area titles. He cited the need for a break as the main reason for stepping down at GHS.
“I needed to step away for a year or two get my battery re-charged,” he said. “I’m kind of long in the tooth now, but that’s okay. You’ve got to have some challenges in your life, and I’m looking forward to helping our kids learn about baseball and become stronger and better men.”
Lamb, who spent 22 years in the U.S. Army before retiring as a lieutenant colonel, added that discipline is an important part of his baseball programs. “To me, success is when you turn out to be a good man and a good dad, and there’s no way to achieve that without discipline in your life. I’m tough on my kids because I want them to become good citizens.” Lamb said that as of right now, Robby Davis and Hunter Clough will serve as assistant coaches, adding every other member of Bone’s staff was welcome to return if he wished. “I’ve got some good boys here at Southside, and we’re going to teach them how to battle and get the best out of themselves,” said Lamb. “These kids have heart; they just have to get a little toughness about them. If they can do that, they’re going to be good.”