New WHHS baseball, JV soccer coaches happy to be home
Red Devil varsity baseball coach Joel Vaughn and J.V. soccer coach Zach Mixson lead their teams for their first seasons as head coaches.
In his first time role as head coach for the school, Wade Hampton High School varsity baseball coach Joel Vaughn is feeling at home again on the Red Devil diamond.
Vaughn, whose father, Randy Vaughn, once coached baseball for the school, is finally back in a Red Devil uniform after coaching for several nearby high schools. Vaughn has coached at Barnwell and Greenwood in previous seasons, but stated there’s nothing better than heading onto the field in a Red Devils uniform.
“I’m finally where I want to be, and that feels good. Wade Hampton is dear to me,” he said. “This is where I have wanted to be for a long time.”
Vaughn stated he will be the fourth coach in four years for his senior athletes. He went on to say that when working with a group of young athletes “trust is key.”
As well as being happy to coach at his high school alma mater, the coach has found enjoyment witnessing his athletes put into practice the skills he has taught them. Although a smaller number of athletes than he likes tried out for the team this season, he stated the talent he has on the field makes up for the team’s smaller number of athletes.
“It feels good to get that first win here at Wade Hampton. It hasn’t come easy to us, but we are getting there daily,” he said of his team’s progress so far this season. “I’m excited to see how we grow after tasting a little success. We are a youthful team, but we have strong senior leadership.”
Also in his first year, WHHS J.V. boys soccer Head Coach Zach Mixson is feeling “really nervous” about his “first time being in charge of a bunch of kids.” Deciding which athlete to place at a particular position is one of many challenges facing the coach during his first year leading a group of athletes by himself.
“It’s hard to strike that balance of letting everyone play and seeing what you’ve got, and who you’ve got where. There’s a lot of stuff going on that I’m not used to dealing with,” said Mixson. “I’m picking it up, though.”
Although nervous about his new role, Mixson played soccer competitively for nearly 20 years, beginning as a youth playing Hampton County recreation league soccer. He later played soccer for WHHS during high school. He has tried to schedule time to volunteer with the soccer team for the past several years, but a hectic work schedule has made assisting the program difficult.
“I love the game in general, but especially Wade Hampton soccer. It kept me out of trouble when I was a kid. It really gave me something to do,” he said. “And I loved it. I loved the guys that I played with; I love the program. I just can’t say enough good things about it. I’m just so excited to be back out on this field.”
As well as coaching J.V., the Hampton County native assists varsity Head Coach Don Sral, who has provided much appreciated help to Mixson. Mixson spoke highly of the varsity head coach’s abilities and dedication to the WHHS soccer program.
“He’s kind of been there the whole time to catch me in case I fall,” said Mixson of Sral. “He’s been really good about helping me out. I really appreciate his help and really respect him.”
Although anxious about his first year, Mixson stated the transition from athlete to coach has been made much easier by the positive attitude of his J.V. boys.
“All the kids out here are respectful…that speaks volumes to their parents,” said Mixson. “They take the game seriously, which I really like. That’s something that you don’t really find in a younger age group…The attitude out here is really good, I really like it…We have got a great program and I think they want to keep that going. They have got some pride here.”