Dennis told The Champion at the DeKalb County School District baseball media day that he will retire after the 2017 season. He is in his 29th year of coaching and 30th year as a teacher.
“I’ve had a good career,” he said. “It’s a little bitter sweet.”
Dennis sits at No. 3 on the DeKalb County coaching wins list with a 376-319 record. He has had 14 winning seasons at Columbia.
Dennis, a star catcher at Briarcliff High School, began his career as a head coach in 1989. Columbia had 10 coaches from 1969 to 1988 who combined for 10 winnings seasons. He has also been active in the DeKalb County Dugout Club for several years serving in various capacities.
Despite having multiple winning seasons at Columbia, none of those seasons ended in a state title. Although it’s his last season, he said there isn’t any extra pressure to win a state title this year than any other year.
“The expectations are still the same—to go out and compete for a region championship, to get in the playoffs,” he said. “We’re not putting any more pressure on [the players] for me. My intentions are to go out with a good taste in our mouths.”
Last year with a young team, the Columbia Eagles finished 15-11 and fell short of a playoff berth. Dennis said his returning and new players worked hard during the offseason to get better and stronger.
“We had some young kids come in and buy into what we’ve been trying to get them to do, get stronger,” he said. “The old kids have been working hard, so we’re looking forward to an exciting year.”
Dennis said his team needs to do a better job of winning close games this year if they want to get to the playoffs and make a run.
“Last year they had to learn how to win on the varsity level. This year we need to continue to expand at that,” he said. “We lost some of the games last year by one run.
This year we need to finish the drill. We need to make sure that we finish where we’re at—don’t give up that one run in the bottom of the top of the seventh [inning] to cause us [to lose] the game. Let’s finish it and let’s move on.”
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