CONYERS -- With the sudden resigning of Rockdale County head baseball coach Kevin Dawkins at the conclusion of the 2019 school year, athletic director Chad Suddeth and company wasted little time in tracking down his replacement.
Thomas Briscoe, a resident of Conyers who got his start as a coach in 2004, was announced as Dawkins’ replacement in the weeks that followed. His hiring at Rockdale will mark his first stop as a head coach at the high school level.
Having spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Jackson High School, his alma mater, Briscoe said his interest in becoming a high school head coach has only grown in recent years.
“Within the last 2-3 years, (coaching high school ball) has been something that I’ve really started pursuing,” Briscoe said. “After this past season at Jackson, I said I would put my name in a hat and see what I could do. Fortunately, Chad called me up. I had an interview with him and Mr. (Frank) Daniels and they offered me the position.”
One of Briscoe’s most notable coaching stops dates back to one decade ago when he spent three years as an assistant under local legend Danny Blue at Georgia Perimeter College in Newton County.
The experience gained by Briscoe, who took over that job at the ripe age of 23, was one he still reflects on to this day.
“When I worked for coach Blue, he had been retired from Heritage for about six years,” Briscoe said. “He actually found me when I was coaching in Jackson. He was 62 at the time and told me that he needed someone that could communicate with 18 year olds.”
It was really cool to me because there were a lot of times that we would be in the dugout and you would see the game come back to him. With him having been away from the game, some of the in-game stuff that would happen and the way he would manage things was really cool to see. Coach Blue is a legend. He was a great resource to be around for three years, for sure.”
Briscoe ended his tenure as an assistant coach at Georgia Perimeter in 2010 and followed that up with one year as an assistant at Georgia Southwestern in Americus in 2011.
In the midst of his several college and high school stops up until that point, Briscoe worked his way into the travel ball scene, too, an experience unlike any other that he had been apart of prior to that.
“I think the biggest thing for me on the travel ball side is that you get a more diverse group of kids in terms of kids from different schools,” Briscoe said. “You’re not only coaching kids at your school. With my travel ball side, I started with a group at the age of 14 and took them all the way through graduation.”
During those stints, Briscoe worked alongside Dallas McPherson, a former MLB infielder who is now the head coach of a Class-A minor league baseball team in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system.
While Briscoe hasn’t spent time as a high school head coach prior to his hiring at Rockdale, the vast amounts of knowledge he has acquired throughout the past 15 years has helped put himself in a great position to lead a team, he said.
“I’m going to be a very hands on coach,” Briscoe said. “I’m going to make sure outfielders are doing things a certain way, infielders are doing things a certain way, pitchers and so on. All of these different experiences have helped me have a broader understanding of the game.”
Briscoe will inherit a Bulldogs’ program fresh off back-to-back playoff berths in 2018 and 2019, both of which featured first-round exits. Having had a chance to meet several of his returning players for next season, his message to the team is simple.
“For me, I’m very up front and honest,” Briscoe said. “I’m going to tell the kids like it is. I’m here to win and I’m here to win now. We’re going to work hard and we’re going to compete. To me, it’s about changing up the culture a little bit. Fundraising, getting involved in the community, being visible and having young kids come up the ranks wanting to wear the red and black. Those are some of the things that we talked about during the interview.”
In the coming weeks, Briscoe said he has intentions of meeting with the rest of the Bulldog baseball contingent and getting started with a fall program as soon as possible.
“We had a parent meeting in the summer and had a decent turnout,” Briscoe said. “I think we had about 7-8 families show up, which is pretty good. I want to let the kids get settled into school and let myself get settled in, too before we have an interest meeting. After that, we’ll start our fall program and get working.”
Having lived just seven miles away from the high school since 2016, Briscoe said that his excitement level to be at Rockdale County is through the roof.
“I’m very excited and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Briscoe said. “I’m excited about some of the kids that I’ve had a chance to meet and work with and am excited to meet the rest of them. I’m just excited to get going.”