Rockdale County baseball preview 2019

Social Circle hired Kevin Dawkins, who has spent the past three seasons as the head baseball coach at his alma mater, Rockdale County as its new baseball coach.

Less than two months removed from stepping down as the head baseball coach at Rockdale County High School, Kevin Dawkins has found his new destination.

Having come to terms with Social Circle to become both a teacher, and as an assistant baseball coach under Danny Blue, Dawkins’ original plan to serve under the longtime legend did not last for long.

“When I took the position, I didn’t take it to be the head coach,” Dawkins said. “I was just going to be an assistant for a year or two and we would go from there.”

Dawkins’ familiarity with Social Circle Athletic Director Craig Hargrove, who taught at Rockdale County High School from 2005-16, was a former P.E. teacher of Dawkins. The excitement to work under Blue was also a selling point.

“Getting a chance to work under (Blue) and learn from a Hall-of-Famer in terms of Georgia High School baseball was very intriguing,” Dawkins said. “It just felt right for me and for my family. It was hard to leave Rockdale, even as a teacher because that was my home. But it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”

However, Blue later handed in his resignation to Hargrove, who then called Dawkins, asking if the Rockdale County graduate and former head coach of his alma mater from 2017-19, would be interested in taking over the Redskins’ program.

“I got a phone call 2-3 weeks ago and they told me that coach Blue had stepped down and wanted to offer me the position. I accepted,” Dawkins said. “It is kind of a similar situation when I took over at Rockdale three years ago going in as an assistant and having the head coach step down before I take over.”

With his family on board with his decision, Dawkins said it was an opportunity that he could not refuse.

“I told my wife that I didn’t plan on being a head coach somewhere unless it was the right situation,” Dawkins said. “This was the right one. From the administration standpoint with the AD, the principal and the support, that was the only situation in which I would agree to be a head coach. And it just happened to pop up this year. I’m thankful for the opportunity and I think that it’s going to be a great fit.”

With his new title of head baseball coach at Social Circle squared away, Dawkins wasted little time in setting up a meeting to introduce himself to both players and their parents.

“Right after I was named the head coach, I had a player-parent meeting and was able to introduce myself to those parents and those players,” Dawkins said. “I let them put a name to a face and we’ve actually started summer workouts, so I’ve seen a large portion of the guys. We’ve had 16-18 kids show up to every workout. That’s pretty cool and it’s giving me a chance to get to know them and see what they’re all about, as well as them getting to see what I’m about. We’re starting to build that relationship now in the summer instead of waiting for the fall.”

The Social Circle community will soon be introduced to Mike Phiel, who recently stepped down from his head baseball coaching position at nearby Salem to accept a teaching position at the Class AA school. Phiel will serve as both an assistant coach under Dawkins on the baseball team, as well as an assistant football coach, having last served under Salem head coach Jarrett Laws.

“(Phiel) a big addition,” Dawkins said. “He’s someone that I’m excited to get to work with. He’s a big baseball guy and knows his stuff. That helps out a lot, especially when we have a young group of kids. We have 10 freshmen upcoming and probably a large portion of them are going to have to play varsity.”

When you have that many young guys, you have to surround yourself with as many coaches as you can that know baseball. He’s going to be crucial and an intricate part in this program.”

In Dawkins’ three years coaching the Bulldogs, he posted a career 39-45 record and helped lead the program to playoff appearances in all three seasons.

Moving on from Class 7A, Georgia’s largest GHSA classification for high school sports, to Class 2A, will be a new challenge, he said.

“There is nothing like 7A baseball,” Dawkins said. “7A baseball in the state of Georgia can go up against any state in the country. Going to Social Circle and it being in 2A, I still think it’s going to be competitive baseball. Smaller schools, longer drives.”

Our region stretches from Putnam County all the way up to Rabun County. Everything that I’ve heard about this region and have heard about 2A is that it isn’t a joke.”

With a younger crop of players expected to be take on varsity roles next season for the Redskins, Dawkins said the expectation of making the playoffs remains the same.

“I expect us to be able to compete and I expect us to have some success,” Dawkins said. “This program is already built. I’m just trying to come in and continue what they’ve started. They’ve gone to back-to-back Elite 8s the last two years. With 10 freshman coming in, it’s going to be a bit of a rebuilding year, but making the playoffs will be the expectation and it’s one that I’m going to carry for myself and expect the kids to carry for themselves.”

Sports Editor

A 2017 graduate of the University of North Georgia, Colin joined the Rockdale/Newton Citizen in March of 2018 as the papers' full-time sports editor. A 2013 graduate of Jackson County High School, Colin received a golf scholarship to Andrew College.