For Jimmy Hughes, his new position as head coach of Shiloh’s varsity baseball program is somewhat of a homecoming.
And to be sure, the lure of being close to his native Loganville, where he went to school and played baseball before graduating in 2004, was a major plus in him accepting the job after serving two seasons as head coach at Macon County.
But it wasn’t the only reason.
The lure of the potential of the Generals’ program, plus a good word from his former coach at Loganville, also played a role.
“(Red Devils head coach Jeff) Segars gave a high recommendation to go after it,” Hughes said. “When he says go for it, I listen. He’s not one of the top minds (in Georgia high school baseball) for no reason.”
Despite dropping to 5-18 this past spring after four straight winning seasons, including the program’s only state playoff berth since 2000, and the challenge of playing in always rugged Region 8-AAAAAA, it’s not difficult to understand Hughes’ optimism in Shiloh, even after just a few days on the job.
“I’ve been with the kids (at Shiloh) for about a week and a half (during the summer season), and I’m real pleased with the progress,” Hughes said. “The cupboard is not bare. There are parts in place to compete. It’s a rebuild, but it’s not a total rebuild. There’s a potential for some really big things at Shiloh.”
Besides, Hughes has taken on far bigger reclamation jobs before.
After serving as head coach for a year at McCormick High School in South Carolina, the 29-year-old came to Macon County in 2013, where he inherited a Bulldogs team that had been forced to forfeit its final seven games the previous season after seeing its roster depleted to just six players.
Following a 4-18 campaign his first season, Hughes guided Macon County to a 10-18 mark this spring, marking the first time a Bulldogs team had posted double digits in wins since 1998.
“That’s huge,” Shiloh athletics director Mike Cammack said. “It just shows me he’s not afraid to start at the bottom. He understands how tough (Region) 8-AAAAAA baseball is and what it takes to be competitive in a region like that.
“He’s familiar with Gwinnett County baseball growing up in Loganville, and he’s real big on fundamentals, which is what we need. (Outgoing) Coach (Michael) Nash did a good job stepping in (this spring before taking the head football coaching job at Dunwoody), but … getting someone like Coach Hughes, who’s all about baseball, will keep the kids competitive.”
THE HUGHES FILE
Name: Jimmy Hughes
New position: Head baseball coach at Shiloh
Former position: Head baseball coach at Macon Co. High School
Career record: 22-49
Education: Graduated from Loganville High School in 2004; graduated from the University of Georgia in ’09; earned Masters degree in Education from Concordia University in ‘13
Background: Played at Loganville as a third baseman and right-handed pitcher; coached varsity baseball at McCormick (S.C.) High for one season before taking over at Macon County in 2013. Led the Bulldogs to a 10-18 record this past spring, the program’s first double-digit win season since 1998