Kyle Douglas honed his skills as a baseball player right here in Coffee County. Now, he is getting the chance to share his knowledge with his own high school team.
The CHS alumnus and former Red Raider pitcher was announced as the new head coach at La Vergne High School earlier this week.
"It's exciting, to be honest I don't think anybody expects to get an opportunity like this so early," Douglas said. "But I'm looking forward to it. I feel ready and I'm ready to hit the ground running and start building things."
Douglas, who turns 23 in August, moved with his family to Manchester when he was nine and attended Central High School, graduating in 2014. During his time as student, he was a member of the baseball team.
A utility player, he spent time at nearly every position aside from center field. It was Douglas's skill as a pitcher that carried him to the college game.
After graduation, Douglas went on to play for Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., where he spent four seasons on the mound. After an injury during his senior year, Freed head coach Jonathan Estes asked him to come back this past season as a graduate assistant pitching coach.
This was Douglas's second stint in coaching. He had previously worked as an assistant for three summers with the Angels junior travel team while at Freed.
The 2019 spring season was a strong one for the Lions within the American Midwest Conference. The team finished with a 47-17 record and competed in the Avista-NAIA World Series.
"We were fortunate enough to win conference, we set the AMC record for wins in a single season," Douglas said. "Pitching staff broke the single-season record for strikeouts in a season."
In March, La Vergne reached out to Douglas about the head coach opening to see if he was interested. Not long after his interview, he was offered the position.
He will replace longtime Wolverine coach Dean Darnall, who stepped down and took an assistant coaching position at Independence High School.
"I guess I said a couple of the right things," Douglas said. "It's been pretty surreal, especially the past month or two."
Douglas was excited by the chance to be a head coach at a high school, especially given his young age. He added that despite being relatively new to coaching, he felt ready to get started and show why he was the right pick.
"It's definitely a position that I feel extremely honored and humbled to get the opportunity," Douglas explained. "But at the same time, I feel prepared and ready to take it on. I wouldn't have applied for the position if I didn't feel like I was in most ways the best candidate for it."
Douglas inherits a team that needs a turnaround. The Wolverines finished the 2019 season 3-16 overall and 2-12 in District 7-AAA. La Vergne has gone 6-66 in district play over the last four years. Despite the team struggles, Douglas said he looked forward to the challenge of building the program his way.
Several people from his years in Manchester helped him grow into the player and coach he is today. Among them was Brent Whitlock, who coached Douglas his junior and senior years at CHS. He also thanked Brett Henley, his little league coach.
He also wanted to recognize his parents for supporting him and helping Douglas pursue his baseball dreams.
These coaches and others gave Douglas a wealth of lessons and experiences he hoped to share with his own players at La Vergne.
"The biggest thing that I learned during my time in Coffee County was success doesn't come easy," Douglas said. "I also learned that success isn't necessarily defined through wins and losses. Success is defined through your development as a person and how you handle yourself."