Bainbridge native coaches Locust Grove to State Championship

Published 4:35 pm Friday, May 27, 2016

Bainbridge native Stephen Phillips grew up playing baseball in the Port City. Monday, the former Bearcat accomplished the highlight of his career as he coached the Locust Grove Wildcats to a State Class AAAA Championship.

The Wildcats beat Buford in three games for the title, losing Game 1 3-2 and coming back to win 4-1 in Game 2 and 3-1 in Game 3.

“The journey has been long, but it’s been worth it,” Phillips said.

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After graduating in 1990 from Bainbridge, Phillips followed his dad and brother’s lead by enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, where he served for four years. Afterward, while studying at West Alabama, he pursued his dream to coach and came onboard the college’s baseball team as an assistant under Mark Smart.

In the late 1990s, Phillips jumped on as a head coach at Cartersville and had the opportunity to help coach the team to three state championships.

“That’s a blessing from God,” Phillips said. “He put me in spots many people dream of being in, and gave me an insight into a winning baseball program.”

He eventually moved to Dutchtown High School for his first head coaching job and went 1-22 his first year. The experience was humbling, he said, and showed him how hard he and the players would have to work to win. After five years, Phillips and the team finished their season with 18 wins.

Following his tenure at Dutchtown, Phillips moved to Locust Grove and has been there ever since.

“The Bainbridge people were just so supportive,” Phillips said. “It was really humbling, and it shows a lot for that town that a guy who graduated there 20-plus years ago. Bainbridge is so supportive of what they’re doing. It meant a lot to me and my family and this group of guys that a town that had no affiliation to them was so supportive.”