Correspondent

Chris Bridges is a columnist and former sports editor for The Walton Tribune.

Chris Bridges Mug

Chris Bridges

The successful run that the Loganville High School baseball program has been on has lasted decades.

It’s an accomplishment which boggles the mind. Season in and season out, the Diamond Devils are a force to be dealt with. Often there is no dealing with LHS because that year’s team is simply the best in its classification.

For coach Jeff Segars, it has been region titles, state championships and an almost impossible number to remember when it comes to players competing at the next level and beyond.

I was there when the program began its run. Segars was the head coach and we often talked about the program’s success in those early seasons of his tenure at the old baseball complex.

Even back then in the early 2000s, the coach knew what he wanted from the program.

“It’s one thing to win a state championship and another thing completely to win it multiple times and be a consistent winner each year,” he told me all those seasons ago. “That is when you go from coaching a great team to a great program. I want Loganville to be a great program known across the state.”

It has been a case of mission accomplished and then some for the Red Devils.

While the craziness of COVID-19 stopped the 2020 season, there are only a few who would try to argue that LHS was not among the favorite to win another state title. Personally, I say the Red Devils were the favorite.

So why has the program achieved so much success since Segars began guiding it? There are multiple reasons.

First the program has had quality players. Segars would be the first to admit that.

However, most high school baseball programs have standout players. What Segars has done is to provide the ultimate stability for his program. Year after year, he is there.

Several of the LHS assistant baseball coaches have been with Segars as well. Even in the time after I moved on as sports editor of The Walton Tribune, I still had the chance to watch Segars’ teams compete across the area. He wasn’t the only coach in the dugout I recognized from years ago.

No doubt his assistants have had opportunities to move on and be head coaches. Clearly, they enjoy where they are and being key parts of the machinery that makes the Diamond Devils go.

Clearly, the coaches who work for Segars realize what type of person he is. It speaks to the type of person Segars is that his assistants have remained so loyal.

Stability is such an important part of a successful high school athletic program. Too often coaches, regardless of the sport, are run off before being given a realistic chance at success.

Monroe Area coach Chad Kitchens told me recently that you cannot underestimate the part that coaching stability plays in the success at LHS.

“You have to admire the stability that Loganville has,” Kitchens said. “That is what I have tried to do at Monroe Area. For so long Monroe’s program had constant turnover in terms of baseball coaches. You are never going to be successful that way.”

Segars’ coaching style is also a great influence on his players, regardless of the season. The coach does get fired up during games. Remember game three of the state championship series against Houston County? But he knows when to pick his spots for incidents like that.

The LHS players know their coach believes in them. They know he has what it takes to take them to the top of the mountain. It has become as common as the grass on the playing field turning green each spring.

From this long-time sports writer’s view, Segars is the best high school baseball coach in the state. His record and resume back me up. Sure, there are cases for other coaches being the best, but by the time Segars is done there might not be any disputing just who is number one.

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