LaFollette out as G-P baseball coach
After eight seasons at the helm of the Gatlinburg-Pittman Highlanders baseball team, Henry LaFollette has been relieved of his coaching duties.
LaFollette, the Highlanders’ all-time wins leader among baseball coaches, was informed of the decision by principal Tony Ogle on Monday.
LaFollette was 110-100 over his eight seasons with G-P, including a 2009 season that saw the Blue and Gold set a school record with 18 wins while finishing third in District 3-AA behind powerful teams from Pigeon Forge and Gibbs.
This past season, however, was a disappointment. Star left-handed pitcher Corbin Lamb was lost midway through the campaign and the team went 14-12, finishing fifth in District 3-AA.
“I was thinking about it a lot at the end of the season, and I just decided I wanted to go a different direction,” Gatlinburg-Pittman principal Tony Ogle said.
Ogle cited no specific reason in his decision to remove LaFollette, who is a teacher in the English department at the school, from his post.
“I appreciate everything coach LaFollette’s done for Gatlinburg-Pittman, I just wanted to go in a different direction,” Ogle said.
During a home loss to Fulton earlier this season, spectators in the G-P crowd could be heard openly casting criticism toward LaFollette after he shouted instruction to a player following an error by the player, illustrating a possible rift between some parents and the coach.
“It’s never been an issue with my players,” LaFollette, who wouldn’t comment on the record about reasons for his dismissal, said. “And I’m sure they’d tell you that. I gave them everything I had.
“It was a tough go, but I always enjoyed it and tried to give it my best.”
LaFollette has a solid baseball background of coaching in the college ranks and serving as a Major League scout.
In fact, he’s still an associate scout with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
“I’m going to take some time off see what kind of opportunites open up and take action accordingly,” he said. “I’d like to (scout) on a part-time basis.”
The Highlanders were 4-48 in the two seasons prior to LaFollette’s arrival at Gatlinburg-Pittman and moved into a tougher district four seasons ago with TSSAA’s realignment.
Ogle said the school has not yet started the process of searching for a successor for LaFollette, though he expects to have a coach in place in the coming weeks.
Gatlinburg-Pittman is usually at a competitive disadvantage to the other county baseball teams, which feature more robust developmental programs for younger players.