Ten years ago, Ryan Danbury never thought his office would be a high school dugout.
Now, he admits coaching baseball is a perfect career choice.
He was also the perfect candidate when Heritage recently put the help wanted sign out in an effort to find its next head baseball coach.
Danbury takes over for veteran head coach Greg Hamilton, who called the shots from the Hawks’ dugout this past season.
However, Hamilton, who won more than 300 games and a state title at Northgate, is not going anywhere. He has agreed to stay on and help Danbury learn the coaching business.
Greg’s son Jonathan will also remain an assistant for the Hawks.
It will give the veteran coach more time to spend with family, especially his grandchildren. He will also have a chance to watch his daughter Jordan play her final season of softball at Point University.
“This is Ryan and Jonathan’s team,” he said. “ I will just be there to serve as an adviser.”
Danbury is excited his first head high school coaching job is with a squad that has plenty of tradition in the GISA.
“My expectations are to get us back in playoffs. This team is very young and missed out for the first time in a long time this season,” Danbury said.
Danbury knows he can learn a lot from Hamilton.
“He has 30 years of coaching experience and lot of victories. He has forgotten more than I know,” Danbury said.
Danbury says there is so much he plans to learn from Hamilton, including how to conduct practice and game management.
“He has a winning mentality,” Danbury said. “He has done something that works. I think we can win a lot of games.”
With Hamilton staying in the Hawks’ dugout, it’s the best of both worlds for two men who love baseball and are passionate about passing on their knowledge of the game to high school players.
The administration at Heritage is also happy with the arrangement.
“We just feel like we had a great situation where coach Hamilton is going to stay on the staff with the ability to bring on Ryan Danbury,” said Heritage interim athletic director Rusty Evans. “Hamilton has loads of experience and Danbury is young and energetic.”
Hamilton has enjoyed his experience at Heritage.
“Everybody has been great to me,” he said. “I think Ryan and Jonathan are going to move the team in the right direction. I am excited to be able to help.”
Danbury comes to Heritage from Home Plate, a baseball teaching facility in Peachtree City, where he first caught the coaching bug.
Danbury gained a little bit of national fame last summer after coaching the Peachtree City 12-year-old Little League squad deep into the Southeast Regionals.
His team appeared several times on ESPN where one of his top players Jayce Blalock crushed a home run that is still being talked about almost a year later.
Blalock’s feat occurred in front of a national television audience and is now available for viewing on Youtube.
“It was probably the coolest thing I have ever done in my baseball career. Danbury said.
Danbury grew up in south Georgia and graduated from Valdosta in 2006 where he was a four-year letter winner for the Wildcats.
His high school career ended when East Coweta beat Valdosta in the GHSA playoffs his senior year.
From there, he had stops at junior colleges in Florida and Tennessee.
Danbury was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2008, but never signed.
After battling some injuries, Danbury finished his college career back home at Valdosta State.Most recently, he has juggled coaching baseball and a career in the military.
He’s still finishing up a commitment in the Air Force Reserves before moving into a new chapter of his life—coaching high school baseball.
It’s obvious that Danbury has found his true calling.
“I don’t want to do anything else,” Danbury said.
Danbury’s wife Audrey is a former softball player at Newnan High School and the business manager for the athletic department at the University of West Georgia.