• 52°

Herndon back coaching Vidalia, this time as head coach

VIDALIA — His initial answer was no.

New Vidalia High School baseball coach Tim Herndon didn’t think he could balance teaching biology at the school, running a crop consulting company and coaching baseball at the same time.

But last November, after some soul searching, Herndon said he changed his no to a yes.

“I was asked back in the summer, and I have another full-time job in addition to teaching, so I didn’t think I wanted to do it,” Herndon said.

“Once (former coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir) wasn’t going to be back, I told them I’d just do it for a year and see. I told (Vidalia principal) Rick Brown I wasn’t a permanent replacement, but I wanted to help out.”

Herndon coached under Hoffpauir as an assistant from 1988 to 2006. He said he knows he has big shoes to fill after the 31 years of success with Hoffpauir at the helm.

“Nobody’s really going to replace John Lee,” Herndon said. “He’s an icon. He started the program, and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a lot of good teams he coached.

“All of my coaching experience is here. It’s where I’ve lived all my life. This is home, and I love it here.”

Herndon’s love for the players and baseball experience are also reasons he changed his mind.

“I love baseball. We always had some good kids, coaches and camaraderie, and when I was away, I missed that,” he said.

“I don’t miss all the time you have to use when you’re coaching, though, because it is a time-eater. Since taking the job in November, I’ve taken Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off, and I’ve been here every other day.”

Not only does Vidalia have to replace seven seniors, but the Vikings will be seriously lacking in game experience as well.

“We have three seniors, one with full-time experience,” Herndon said. “We have one guy moving from second base to catcher, and another with no varsity experience.

“We’re inexperienced, and we’re a work in progress. Expectations are high, and we’d love to be competitive in district play, but we’re going to start slow.”

Despite any lack of experience, there isn’t a lack of work ethic among his team, Herndon said.

“I hope we get better every game. If we improve, I’m OK. We really need to find a go-to starting pitcher,” Herndon said.

“These kids work hard. They always ask me if I’ll be up at the field Saturday, and if I’m a few minutes late, they’ll start texting me asking me where I’m at.”

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