Randy Morris loved coaching Little League Baseball so much he couldn’t give it up.
Less than seven months after he led Northern Little League to its second appearance in the Little League World Series and announced he would be leaving the league to accept a community coach position with the Northside baseball team, Morris was back at Northern earlier this month when it opened its season.
Morris, who led Northern to a Little League Word Championship in 2006, said Wednesday that he had hoped to chip in as a Northern coach in a lesser capacity while coaching at Northside. But when he learned a Muscogee County School District rule prohibited him from doing both, the longtime Northern coach had to make a decision.
According to the MCSD athletics handbook, athletic coaches may coach travel teams or other youth sports teams only if he or she has a child participating on the non-MCSD team, has been granted approval by the Georgia High School Association if he or she is coaching a high school sport, and has been given permission to do so by the MCSD superintendent.
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“When I saw there was that rule, I just thought about it and realized Little League is where my heart and my passion was,” said Morris, who is now coaching the 11-12-year-old Dodgers with Allen McMullen and former Northern all-star assistant coach Donnie Coulter. “I wanted to be able to do a bit of both, but I just decided that was the place I wanted to be if I could only do one.”
This is Morris’ 15th season coaching Little League, and he has a World Championship, five state championships and three Southeastern Regional appearances to his credit.
Northern Little League president Bob Long said many of the league members were saddened by Morris’ departure in September but were not surprised when they found out he would be returning in his previous capacity as a head coach.
“We had talked a little bit about him staying with us at Northern and Little League being his first passion, so I wasn’t surprised,” Long said. “I’m just excited for him to be back here and working with our kids again. We knew it was a good opportunity for him (at Northside), and we had mixed feelings because we didn’t want him to leave but we also wanted him to be able to pursue something he wanted to do. We were just glad he decided to come back and help us out again.”
Long said there is a selection process to determine the league’s all-star coaches each year, and it was not a given that Morris would take over his previous role as head coach of the 11-12-year-old all-stars.
“We still have got a long way before the all-stars are selected, but he’s always a candidate for coaching all-stars,” Long said. “We really have three all-star groups -- 9-10, 10-11 and 11-12. The 11-12-year-olds are the ones that go to the Little League World Series, but the 9-10-year-olds go to a national championship in West Virginia, and there are some other places other all-stars can go to compete. So there are a lot of different places to advance to and to coach all-stars.”
Morris coached varsity catchers at Northside and also worked with the freshman and junior varsity teams. Northside coach David Smart said Morris offered to finish the season as part of his commitment to the team, but Smart said he did not want to keep Morris from his passion.
“We loved having him, and I think he really enjoyed being here,” Smart said. “What it came down to was, in his heart of hearts, he had a tremendous passion to be with those young kids. Any time a guy tells you he’s that passionate about something, you don’t want to discourage him from doing it.”
Chris White, 706-571-8571 ; follow Chris online at twitter.com/le_chriswhite and at facebook.com/lechriswhite.