BIGGERSVILLE — With the new school year fast approaching, losing their head softball coach last week was not the best case scenario.
But Biggersville found just the man to lead the Lady Lions diamond squad only a few miles away.
Corinth assistant Cole Harris, who just completed his first year with the Lady Warriors with Head Coach Maggie Vondenstein, was named to replace Blake Hendrix, who resigned his post at BHS to take a coaching position at Corinth.
So, in a matter of speaking, Biggersville and Corinth exchanged coaches.
Harris, a 2009 graduate of Newton County High School near Decatur, had moved to Corinth with his wife, the former Sarah Bobo of Kossuth, last year after spending four seasons at Center Hill High School.
His last three years there were spent as the Lady Mustangs head softball coach.
Prior to his stint in DeSoto County Harris was an assistant softball and baseball coach, as well as cross country head coach, at Booneville High School.
“I had a great time coaching there under (baseball head coaches) Bo (Sandlin) and Kevin (Williams),” said Harris. “I learned a lot from them while I was there. And then I got my first head coaching job at Center Hill after spending my first year there as an assistant baseball coach.”
As proof that life does, indeed, come full circle, Biggersville football Head Coach Case Ingram played a big part in Harris being hired at Center Hill as well as being a part of bringing him to BHS.
“Case and I have almost identical resume’s,” said the new Lady Lions head coach. “He was at Center Hill when I was looking for a job in that area … because Sarah was living there as was my sister, so I was looking for a job in that vicinity. He called and informed me of the opening at Center Hill and it wasn’t long before I applied for the job and was hired as a teacher and coach.”
“Then when this job came open a week or two ago, he called me again and asked me if I would be interested in it and I said ‘of course’. I have known (BHS Principal) Coach Pete (Seago) from him umpiring a lot of our games, and already knew Case, so it was a natural progression.”
The only issue that stood in Harris’ way was his contract situation. With his new contract having just gone into effect in June he wasn’t sure how his CHS bosses would respond but, as it turned out, there was no need for concern.
“They were very understanding,” he said. “The only way I could get out of my contract was with their approval. I met with the new principal and she then spoke with Dr. (Lee) Childress about my situation. He told her to simply have me write an official letter of resignation and they would take care of the rest,” said the former Corinth assistant. “I’ve been very blessed and fortunate through the entire process.”
Harris has not yet met with his new team but said he would like to sometime before school gets underway in less than two weeks.
“I hope sometime before classes begin that we can set up a team and parent meeting, kind of a get acquainted thing,” said the coach. “I really haven’t heard much about Biggersville yet, but what I have heard is all about the family atmosphere that exist and how supportive and caring everyone is. I’m excited to get started and become part of the Biggersville family.”
The East Central Community College and Mississippi State graduate originally had no idea that he would become a coach and a teacher.
“I started out in civil engineering and spent a couple of summers during college as an MDOT intern in the District 5 lab, he recalled. “But at some point it all changed. My dad, Chris, was a coach, as well as a teacher and administrator. He also was the athletic director at East Central for 14 years. And my mother, Pam, was a special ed teacher for 25 years before she passed away during my junior year.”
Following his graduation from MSU, Harris spent a year at Union High School as a teacher before receiving a notice that Booneville was searching for an assistant coach and teacher. That’s when he and his wife made the move to north Mississippi.”
The Harris’ welcomed their first child, daughter Caroline, nine months ago, so living in the same county as his in-laws certainly has it’s benefits.
“That’s the main reason we moved here after the 2020 school year was because we were expecting Caroline but had no family there (in DeSoto County) to help. With Sarah’s family living here it just made since to make the move and it has worked out perfectly.”
The new Lady Lions head coach has two older sisters, Kelly and Krissy, and a younger brother, Joseph.
And, yes, he has a plan in place for Biggersville softball.
“My number one goal, and this would go for any program I happen to be with, is respect and responsibility. I expect our girls to respect themselves as well as their teachers, everyone they go to school with and their families,” he emphasized. “And I expect them to be responsible for every decision they make, no matter how large or small. From there it’s just learning things piece by piece on the field that will help them learn the game better and grow to become a successful team as both individuals and as a unit.”
Biggersville softball has had a recent track record of success so he feels confident in the possibilities.
As far as his approach to coaching, Harris said he owes Vondenstein a bit of gratitude for showing him how to be more of a mellow and laid back coach but still be stern and intense when needed.
“Coach Maggie is a great coach but is also a really great person,” he said. “She loves her players and they know it. She doesn’t really have to yell and shout to get the best out of her players. And she will never embarrass a player. I would never embarrass a player, either but until I coached with her I was not as laid back as I am now. There is a time and place for every thing and every emotion, and I owe her for teaching me that and being that kind of example every day on and off the field.”
“And, yes,” he said emphatically, “I definitely want to win.”