Tennessee Wesleyan names Watson Bulldogs' new diamond boss as Berry bolts for Baylor
ATHENS, TN (WRCB) --- " I'm not trying to replace Coach Etter, my biggest thing is i want him to always understand that it will be his program," explains former Tennessee Wesleyan Head Baseball Coach Billy Berry on his new job at Chattanooga's Baylor High School. " It will always be his program, and its just the situation that I'm coming in to take over for a legendary man who i've heard nothing but great things about and my biggest goal in this entire thing is to put a product on the field come March, that Coach Gene Etter can be proud and come back and watch." New Baylor head baseball coach Billy Berry, after a ten year run at Tennessee Wesleyan, on succeeding the legendary Gene Etter in Red Raider country.
TWC wasted little time in finding the Bulldogs next head baseball coach with Berry exiting as former Faulkner University Assistant Coach Travis Watson accpeted the job Thursday morning.
We caught up with both coaches Saturday in Athens, where Berry literally handed over the keys and Bulldog golf shirts to his successor. Watson, A Sweetwater, Tennessee native and former Lee University assistant, gets the job he initially applied for 10 years ago, when TWC selected Berry to lead the program. The diamond Bulldogs have produced one major league draft picks for the past six consecutive seasons. One thing Watson doesn't have to worry about is rebuilding.
" That's right, I'm just trying not to mess it up, we're just trying to carry the torch from Billy Berry, Wayne Norfleet, Ashley Lawson, this place goes back to tradition is unreal, and I'm just hoping to continue that," said Watson.
So why would a highly successful college coach like Billy Berry want to take a high school job? Even one so locally high profile as Baylor? Berry admits it was a tough decision to leave Tennessee Wesleyan and Athens. Where "The Friendly City" touts the Bulldogs' 2012 NAIA championship on the city's welcome sign. But Berry says after Baylor offered the job and consulting his wife, the sweetener to the deal was his kids getting a education like Baylor can provide.
" It came down to a situation where this was just really best for our family and for our kids," said Berry. " For our kids to be able to get a Baylor education and for me to still be able to be a baseball coach was really something at this point in time we couldn't pass up."