By Doug Gorman
Chuck Campbell, who spent nearly two decades building the Henry County Warhawks into a championship baseball team, has decided to step down as the Warhawks' head coach.
Campbell, who also coaches the Ladyhawks fast-pitch softball team, will remain in that capacity for the upcoming 2004 season.
As the school's baseball coach, Campbell compiled a 371-179 career record.
His decision to step down was based on his desire to spend more time with his family.
"I kind of look at it as retiring from baseball," said Campbell. "This was something I starting thinking about at the end of the season. It will give me more of a chance to spend time with my family."
Campbell's wife Joan just retired after more than 30 years in the DeKalb School System, and daughter Rebekah has been accepted at Presbyterian College. Rebekah, who played softball for her father, plans on working for the college's sports information staff at Presbyterian.
Youngest daughter Rachel is entering her junior year and plays softball and soccer at Henry County.
"My daughter Rachel has played more than 70 varsity soccer games, and I think I have watched four games because soccer and baseball are played at the same time," Campbell said. "I want a chance to see her play more."
Campbell, who took over as head coach in 1987, guided the Warhawks to region titles in 1998, 99, 2000, 2003 and 2004.
His squads also made it to the state playoffs in 1995-2000 and again in 2003 and 2004.
Campbell earned the respect of his coaching colleagues along the way being named Class AAA Coach of the Year in 1996.
He was also asked to coach in the Georgia High School All-Star games in 1995 and 99.
"This is a big loss for baseball in Henry County," said Eagle's Landing head coach Troy Baker.
Baker spent several seasons at Henry County, serving as one of Campbell's assistant coaches before taking over as head coach at Eagle's Landing this season.
"Coach Campbell has great recall," said Baker. He can remember what happened in a game two or three years ago without checking the score book. He is also a class act. He will beat you by 10-runs in five innings, and then e-mail you or call you the next day to lift you back up."
Henry County advanced to the second round of Class AAAAA state tournament this season before losing to East Coweta, which made it to the championship series before losing to Milton.
At one point this season, Henry County was ranked No.-1 in the Class AAAAA baseball poll.
Pitchers Michael Rozier and Jason Laird were the cornerstones of this year's Region 2-AAAAA championship squad.
Both pitchers went undefeated until losing in the state playoffs against East Coweta.
Last month, both pitchers were selected in Major's League Baseball's first-year draft.
"Chuck Campbell took over this team 18 years ago and turned it into one of the elite programs in the state," said Henry County Athletic Director Chuck Miller. "He has been a great co-worker, and he will be missed on the baseball diamond."
Miller praised Campbell's work ethic and the coach's knack for getting players scholarships.
According to Campbell, more than 80 of his players played in college.
"The coach spent a lot of time on the phone trying to get his players into college," said Miller. "Many started at junior colleges and ended up transferring to four year programs."
Since many perspective candidates have already signed teaching contracts for the upcoming school year, Campbell's resignation doesn't come at a great time.
However, Miller said Henry County plans to move quickly in hiring Campbell's replacement.
"(Principal) Andy Giddens has been in this business along time and has experience hiring qualified people," Miller said. "It won't be easy replacing Chuck, but we will find the best teacher and coach for the job."