Brookwood H.S. (Snellville, Ga.)
Career record: 196-97 (nine seasons)
State champions: 2008
State runner-up: 2012
State semifinals: 2007, 2009
State quarterfinals: 2011
Gwinnett County Coach of the Year: 2007, 2008
Lambert athletic director Drew Ferrer received applications from all over the southeast for the school’s vacant baseball coaching job, but he found the answer just one county over.
Brookwood head coach Rick Howard will take over at Lambert for the 2015-16 school year, as the Forsyth County News reported on Tuesday. Howard will coach his 20th and final season (10 of those as the head coach) for the Snellville school this spring.
Howard informed his players on Monday and told Brookwood faculty and staff in an email that day. It was time for a new challenge, he said.
“I’ve basically been raised here, since my second year as a teacher,” Howard, who teaches P.E., said. “We’ve spent a long time with some of these people. It was tough to pull the trigger when you’ve been at a place for 20 years.”
In Howard’s nine seasons at the helm, Brookwood has qualified for the state playoffs in every season. The Broncos won the Class AAAAA state championship in 2008 and finished with a No. 3 national ranking that year (34-3 record). Howard also coached Brookwood to two state runner-up finishes and two state semifinal appearances.
“There was plenty of buzz around here yesterday once people saw the success he had at Brookwood,” Ferrer said. “We couldn’t find anybody who said anything negative about him.”
In Lambert, Howard saw a still-young program with a great structure already in place and plenty of room left to grow.
The school is finishing construction on a covered hitting facility, located in between the baseball and softball diamonds. Under Howard’s watch, Brookwood built a clubhouse and locker room facility, and he’s hopeful that could be a possibility for Lambert in a few years.
The timing of former Lambert head coach Jamie Corr’s departure in late June made the hiring process tricky for Ferrer. Lambert’s principal, Dr. Gary Davison, asked Ferrer to take the job on an interim basis.
Howard said he would not have taken the job had he been offered in late July. He felt it wouldn’t have been right to leave his players on such short notice. When the job was still open in mid-August, Howard enquired with Ferrer.
Lambert brought Howard in for an interview on Nov. 1, a second interview several weeks later, and offered him the position on Friday, Nov. 21.
Ferrer wanted the coaching search to end before winter break, so it wouldn’t be a distraction when his team starts practice over Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend in late January.
Lambert narrowed the search down to eight candidates, mostly from the metro Atlanta area and several from neighboring states, and later to four finalists. At that point, it could have gone to any of the four.
“We saw how Rick likes to do things, how he works with other coaches and staff,” Ferrer said. “He got along great with our entire administration.”
In a strange twist of fate, Howard played one season of baseball at Edison College (now Florida SouthWestern State) in Ft. Myers, Fla. If that name sounds familiar, it should be—Corr played there, too, and left Lambert to help restart the baseball program at his alma mater.
For now, Howard’s focus is entirely on his final season at Brookwood. He plans to keep his distance so that Ferrer and Lambert can focus on repeating as Class AAAAAA state champions.
Then, Howard, his wife Rhonda, and their two boys, Reid and Rhett, will move up to Forsyth County to begin a new adventure.
“I’m pretty boring, man—it’s mostly just baseball and family,” Howard said. “We’ll get up there and jump in with both feet.”