Thursday, June 20, 2013
Timberland is saying goodbye to the only baseball coach it has ever known, Chris Pond.
After 17 years at the helm of the Wolves baseball program Pond announced last week he was leaving to become the baseball coach at Goose Creek.
It was a hard decision to leave, according to Pond, because of his players.
“Leaving the kids made it hard,” said Pond, who was hired to start the Timberland baseball program at just 22 years of age after graduating from Coastal Carolina.
The opportunity to take over at GCHS was too big for Pond not to take. For one, living in Goose Creek, Pond is relieved of a 30-mile commute to work each day.
“The opportunity was great because their baseball team has been on the upswing,” he said. “And I will be closer to home. I will get to see my daughter play a lot more as she plays for the middle school team at Stratford for volleyball and basketball.”
Pond, who spent almost half his life wearing the Wolves’ green and orange, will now sport the black and yellow of the Gators. But it’s more than team spirit he’s leaving behind.
“Leaving Timberland was tough because Art Craig is a close friend and boss,” Pond said. “He and Coach Phillip Morgan taught me everything about being loyal and how to handle kids and any other type of situation that occurred.
“I owe my coaching success to them.”
Craig said seeing Pond leave is tough, but coaching at Goose Creek is an excellent opportunity for his longtime coach.
“Coach Pond is one of those coaches that go beyond what is normally expected of a teacher and a coach,” Craig said. “He takes a lot of these kids under his wing and becomes both a friend and a role model for them. All of our coaches do this but Chris is someone a lot of these kids look up to.”
The move leaves Craig with a coaching vacancy in baseball and an assistant football coach position to fill as well. While Craig would have preferred the move to have happened earlier in the spring, he understands.
“It’s a great opportunity for him and we wish him the best,” Craig said. “He’s left a great foundation with our baseball program at Timberland and we hope to find someone who can take what Coach Pond has built here forward to the next level.”
Pond said the school, the students, parents and community embraced him for the past 17 years.
“I got along with everyone,” he said. “I had a lot of community help and support from Danny Tracy who has volunteered for me for 10 years and also Duffy Wright and Herbie Orvin. Jerry Thrower would do anything I asked. If it needed to get done to the field it was done.”
But at heart it’s always about the kids.
“Literally I've known these kids since they were born and I treat my ball players like they’re my own,” he said. “I'm real close with my kids so it’s tough.”
Pond said he will take this same attitude to Goose Creek.
“I already know some of them already because my son grew up there playing at the rec center,” he said. “In the next couple of weeks I'm going to watch some of them play and start to get to know them.”
Pond moves from Region 7AA to Region 8AAAA that is stacked with solid rivals in Stratford, Cane Bay, Wando and West Ashley.
“I’m excited that I will have a lot of returners coming back, which is good coming into the region,” he said. “I'm ready for challenge and I don't think I will have to motivate players to play.”