A milestone day for Greenbrier softball head coach Garrett Black and the Lady Wolfpack program overshadowed the start of the Region 2-AAAAA Tournament on Saturday.
It was more like a family reunion with former players among the Greenbrier supporters on hand to see their coach reach his 500th career win in his 17th year as the only head coach of the program.
It didn’t take long as the Lady Wolfpack scored 11 runs in the first inning against Warner Robins before winning 13-0 in four innings. They won the second game 19-0 in three innings to advance to the region semifinals. The rest of the tournament will be played at Greenbrier beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday when the Lady Wolfpack face the Jones County-Grovetown winner.
After the game, Black was feted on the diamond as former Lady Wolfpack players, family and supporters came out to congratulate him on his accomplishment.
While he keeps in touch with his former players, he still enjoyed getting to see them.
“It’s always good to see those kids,” Black, 44, said. “The way we do things, you spend a lot of time with those kids and they become part of your family. It just reconfirms what I do when they come back to see me. I want to say it like this – I made a difference in their lives. That’s why I do what I do. At the end of the day, that’s why you coach.”
Kayla Thurmond, who played on the 2004 state championship team, said she wouldn’t have missed the moment for the world.
“It meant everything,” she said about being on hand for the win. “I miss it and it was like the best four years of my life. I still wear my ring.”
Jessica Broadhecker was also on that championship squad and has been one of Black’s assistant coaches for three years.
“A big reason that I decided to coach was because of him,” she said. “Being around Greenbrier softball and getting to be around him, coaching again, it just takes me back to when I played.”
The lone senior on the current squad, Taylor Thompson, was proud to be on the team that got the milestone win.
“We just wanted to help out and help him get his 500th win,” she said. “He’s just a great coach. He’s very smart and intelligent and just loves the game of softball and puts all his heart into it. He just deserves everything he gets.”
Among Black’s most vivid memories are the state championship game and a game against Whitewater in 2010 at Greenbrier in the playoffs, when they battled to a 9-6 win in 10 innings, that helped propel them into the title game.