Colin Kirkland

Colin Kirkland, coaching first base for Alpharetta in the recent Class 7A second-round baseball series on Ike Aultman Field at Jerry Croft Stadium, talks with Raiders shortstop Logan Racine. Kirkland has been named the head baseball coach at Centennial High School in Roswell.

MOULTRIE - Colin Kirkland grew up in the same home as one of Georgia’s most successful high school baseball coaches.

Now he is getting the opportunity to put what he has learned to work in his own career.

Kirkland, son of former South Effingham and Colquitt County head baseball coach and Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame member Tony Kirkland, has been named as the new head coach at Centennial High School in Roswell.

The younger Kirkland spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Alpharetta High School working with the Raiders’ infielders and hitters.

He has just two other years of varsity assistant coaching experience — one at his high school alma mater, Colquitt County, and another at Tift County.

But officials at Centennial were impressed enough after interviewing the 27-year-old former Packer that he was offered a chance to lead their program.

Kirkland concedes that getting a head coaching job at a relatively young age seems “surreal.”

“It happened all of a sudden,” he said, adding, however, that he believes he is ready to be a head coach.

“I won’t change much from what I was doing as an assistant,” he said. “I’ll just continue to be a players’ coach.”

He has been preparing for the opportunity since he played for his father at Colquitt County.

Tony Kirkland was the school’s hitting coach when the Packers won state championships in 1997 and 2003.

He then went to become the head coach at South Effingham, where he led the Mustangs to a 138-52 record and four Final Four finishes in six seasons.

Tony returned to Colquitt County in 2010 to become the Packers head coach and went 163-136, reaching the Final Four in 2011 and the Elite Eight in 2012.

When retired after the 2019 season, he had a career record of 301-188.

He also had been actively involved in the Georgia Dugout Club and served as a coach for Team Georgia.

Colin knew early on he wanted to follow both of his parents — Tony and Marni — into education and his father into coaching.

“Watching him growing up and playing for him, those were the No. 1 reasons I chose the career that I have,” Colin said.

And he knows his father will continue to be a valuable resource.

“He’s always been there for me and I know he’ll be there if I need to reach out,” Colin said.

After graduating from Colquitt County in 2013, Colin red-shirted one year at Valdosta State before transferring to Thomas University, where he played for the Nighthawks for four seasons.

He was a member of the Sun Coast Conference All-Academic team in 2016-2018 and was named a NAIA Scholar-Athlete in 2017 and 2018.

He graduated from Thomas University in 2018 with a degree in middle grades math and science education.

The next season, he was back at Colquitt County working for his father, helping coach the outfielders and hitters.

He was hired at Tift County in 2020 as a varsity baseball and varsity softball assistant.

In 2021, he went to Alpharetta as a varsity baseball assistant coach, head ninth-grade baseball coach and head softball coach.

He also taught algebra at Alpharetta.

Ironically, his final games as an assistant at Alpharetta were on Ike Aultman Field at Jerry Croft Stadium, where he played his high school baseball.

Alpharetta had come to Moultrie for a second-round Class 7A baseball series against the Packers and was eliminated in three games.

Colin said his first Centennial Knights team will have 12 seniors who are veterans of the team that went 10-17 overall and 8-13 in Region 5-6A this spring.

He is expecting to have seven starters back.

The school will move to Class 5A for the 2022-2023 school year and play in Region 6 along with Cambridge, Chattahoochee, Greater Atlanta Christian, Kell, North Springs and Northview.

“That’s going to be exciting,” Colin said of the Knights playing in a new region. “They play great baseball.”

Colin met with his new players on Friday.

He is bringing Josh Horton to Centennial to serve as the team’s pitching coach.

“He’s a young guy with a lot of energy,” Colin said. “He’s got a lot of great ideas and a lot of resources.”

Colin said he will coach only baseball and is expecting to teach algebra.

 

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