PILOT MOUNTAIN —The due diligence is over, and the heir apparent has taken over the baseball team at East Surry.
Longtime assistant coach Chad Freeman has been officially named varsity head coach in place of coaching legend Barry Hall, who retired at the end of the season.
In another announcement, elementary school teacher Mike Lowery is taking over the boys’ soccer program for Bill Hart.
Hall’s retirement has been anticipated for a couple of years, and the retired educator said he is feeling the effects of aging on his health and thought it was time to step down.
Hart, on the other hand, is fresh off leading the boys’ soccer team on a Cinderella run to the state championship match last fall.
“I still love coaching,” said Hart, but family obligations and other duties have cut into his free time.
Hart said he is still handling his other jobs, including teaching, coaching the girls’ soccer team, teaching driver’s education, running the clock at basketball games and providing a voice to home football games.
When Hart is coaching the girls’ team, Lowery will be his assistant coach. When Lowery is coaching the boys, Hart promises to be at games as the team’s number one fan.
As for the new coaches, both Freeman and Lowery graduated college in 2001.
Freeman attended Surry Central before earning a Bachelor of Science degree in history education at Appalachian State University in 2001.
A few months later, he started at East Surry, teaching social studies. He has been an assistant on the baseball team from his very first year.
In 2009, Freeman became a national board certified teacher. In the fall of 2010, he became the girls’ golf coach and has continued in that capacity.
Along the way, Freeman also has helped the boys’ soccer program and coached a Surry County American Legion team.
Lowery he received his Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from State University of New York in Cortland, New York.
He later received his master’s degree in physical education in 2005. Two years later he joined Cedar Ridge Elementary as a physical education teacher.
Over his career, Lowery has coached middle school girls’ soccer, varsity tennis, JV volleyball, JV soccer, middle school girls’ basketball, and middle school volleyball.
Hart joked that Lowery didn’t have a choice in becoming his girls’ assistant coach.
If Mike didn’t say yes, all the girls who knew him from middle school would be at his house, banging on the door, Hart said.
East Surry principal Lorrie Sawyers said of the two announcements, “I am excited about the level of experience, enthusiasm and commitment to East Surry athletics these coaches will provide for our students.”