“I was floored,” says new Aiken High School baseball coach Gary Asbill when he found out he got the job.
“I went back to my fiance once I found out about it and just kind of collapsed and started crying. Because you know, it’s something I kind of looked towards my entire life,” added Asbill, who teaches English at the school.
Asbill takes over the Hornet program after being an assistant under previous head coach Will Howard. But even coaches Asbill played for in high school could tell he was destined to be a skipper when his playing career was over.
“We’re sitting there on the bench, I’d broken my wrist and couldn’t play. About the third or fourth inning he turns and looks at me and says ‘hey, you’re coaching third next inning.’ So I was frightened to death, but when I got out there, after a few pitches, I realized maybe he’s right. He looks at me and says maybe one day this is going to be your career,” said Asbill.
The coach was Mid-Carolina head coach Ronnie Bannister, who was coaching Asbill in a summer league in Orlando his senior year of high school.
After his career finished at USC Aiken in 2010, the Batesburg-Leesville High School alum jumped into coaching as an assistant under Bob Polewski at South Aiken High School. Asbill eventually returned to USCA as an assistant under longtime pacers coach Kenny Thomas.
“You know, as a player you just show up and do what they ask you to do and you work hard. As a coach you have to do all those things, and then you have to make a bunch of important decisions that impact the entire program. I saw on a daily basis what coach Thomas and coach Holder and all those guys on a daily basis had to do. And I realized this job’s a lot tougher than people think,” added Asbill.
Due to the current pandemic, for now, he has to settle for getting Henderson Johnson Field ready. But soon, he’ll be able to put his years of experience to use on the next generation of Hornets.
“I want to teach the guys and I want to teach them how to be successful in the future past this game. Because eventually the game tells you you can’t play anymore. So what are you going to take going forward? When I look back at all those coaches I had in the past, that’s really what I look at. They taught me a virtues and values that I still carry with me in the game and outside.”
And of course, he wants to beat the rivals over at South Aiken.
“That’s the plan,” Asbill said with a laugh. “I talked to our AD and he said that’s kind of our goal every year,” he added.
The Hornets made four straight playoff appearances under Howard.
The big year for Asbill will continue in Decmber, when he will marry his fiance Amanda Giordano, who coaches the Hornets JV soccer team and played at USCA.