Greg Payne has been hired as McCallie's baseball coach.
"Greg has been around the program. He has a son [Tyler] in the program," Blue Tornado athletic director Bubba Simmons said. "When you look at Greg and what he did at Gordon Lee, you know he's a baseball coach."
Payne, who coached Gordon Lee for eight years and took the Trojans to two state semifinals, has spent the past two years as an assistant principal at Whitwell.
"I am very appreciative of Mark Griffith, the director of schools for Marion County, for the opportunity, and I will have nothing but good memories of the two years I worked there," Payne said.
Payne, though, is a baseball guy and found that the combination of McCallie and a chance to return to the field was too much to pass up.
"I'm sure a lot of quality people applied," he said. "I'm just glad [the selection] was me. It's a dream come true."
Payne has a history with Kenny Sholl, director of McCallie's upper school, as well as Simmons.
"I've known them both for a long time, and Coach Sholl is one of the reasons I wanted to be a teacher," Payne said. "He taught me in my freshman year in high school, and I just loved the guy. I didn't necessarily like math, but I loved going to his class every day."
Sholl remembered that time at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe.
"I coached him, and even then he had a high baseball IQ along with an incredible passion for the game," Sholl said, "but what really attracted us to Greg is that he is a school man. We like to hire what we call teacher-coaches, and he is a quality teacher."
Sholl said McCallie also had hired former big-leaguer Tim Costo as a hitter instructor for the program. He'll be working with all baseball players in grades 6-12.
Costo's addition will give Payne two former big-leaguers on his staff. Robert Long, brought in last year by then coach Chris Richardson, will continue as pitching coach. Tom Adams will remain also as a varsity assistant.
"Tim and I have been friends for a long time," Payne said of the former first-round draft pick. "With Tim and Robert, I'm not sure a whole lot of programs can match having two guys with big-league experience in their program. With Tom Adams, who's been around, there is a lot of credibility for me."
Richardson, who has been promoted to more supervisory duties within the athletic department, worked diligently to improve the facilities, and Payne inherits a field with a hitting facility, lights and an artificial turf infield.
"Chris set the bar pretty high with the success he's had over the years and in particular the wins he's had over our big rival," Simmons said.
"We had a pretty good team in 2007 at Gordon Lee, and his guys spanked us," Payne recalled.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765.