Photo: Blake Bone speaks at a meet and greet session at the Gadsden City High School library earlier this week after being introduced as GCHS baseball coach. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Blake Bone is back where it all began for him with regard to his coaching career.
The former longtime Southside High School baseball coach recently was hired to take over the Gadsden City High School baseball program.
In 10 years at his alma mater from 2007 to 2017, Bone guided Southside to 10 playoff appearances, four state semifinal berths, nine area championships and nine 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.
Bone began his coaching career began in 2007 as an assistant GCHS baseball coach.
A 1996 Southside graduate, Bone played for four years at Alabama-Huntsville. He was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 2000 MLB draft and spent five seasons in the organization’s minor leagues.
Bone takes over for Taylor Talbot, who stepped down after three seasons with the Titans.
Bone, who spent the past school year at Highland Elementary and did not coach baseball, said that the time off re-energized him both mentally and physically.
“It probably was the best year of my life as far as getting my head cleared and the opportunity to sit back and evaluate how I did things in 15 years of coaching and see how I could do things differently. So I feel I’m much more prepared now to have a fresh opportunity. I’m humbled and I’m honored to be the baseball coach here, and I’m super-excited about getting started. This will be a process that will take the collaboration of players, coaches and parents, and I think we can do big things here at Gadsden City.”
Bone shared his vision for the GCHS baseball program, one that he said will feature discipline, excellence, a blue-collar work ethic and an elite mindset that focuses on the process rather than the result.
“Our goal as coaches and players is to dominate every day and let the results take care of themselves. As we move forward, one of the things we’ll learn is to take care of the mental aspects of the game as well as the physical. We’re also going to focus on building discipline and developing a culture of winning championships and developing champions as players, students and people.
Bone listed a set of core values with the Titan acronym – Toughness, Integrity, Truth, Accountability, No excuses and Selfless.
“Our team will be tough, both mentally and physically. Life is hard and baseball is hard. We’ll have to deal with failure every day, but we’re going to be resilient and learn how to bounce back from that failure and be better people for it.
“With integrity, we will do things the right way, both on and off the field and no matter who is watching us.
“With truth, we’ll always be honest with each other. As a player, I always respected the coach who was honest with me, for both good and bad.
“With accountability, we will hold ourselves to a higher standard than everyone else.
“With no excuses, we live in a world where everybody wants to blame everybody else for their problems, and we’re going to learn how to take responsibility for our actions.
“With selfless, our team will be a ‘we’ over ‘me’ every time. We’ll learn to execute our roles but not accept them. As coaches, we want our players to always want more for themselves.”
GCHS athletic director Todd Lamberth, who coached the Titan baseball team from the school’s inception in 2006 to 2014, said that the program hit a home run with Bone’s hiring.
“Blake’s resume speaks for itself, and he brings instant credibility for what he’s accomplished in the past. It’s going to be tough at first and he’ll have to be patient, but our middle school team had a great season last year and we’re returning a good young group of core players, so I think that with time, we’ll see the results. Our area will be tough with Huntsville, Sparkman and Grissom, but I think we’ll be competitive.”
Bone is currently putting together his coaching staff, which will include 2012 Southside High graduate Ricky Ray Clayton, who played baseball at Wallace State-Hanceville and UAH, and Coty Blanchard, who was a standout at Che-rokee County High School and Jacksonville State before playing two seasons of professional minor league baseball.