After 27 years, four schools and a trove of accomplishments, longtime DCHS head baseball coach Dwayne Sapp confirmed he is retiring from the sport he has contributed so much to.
But he’s not quite done contributing to Tiger Nation.
In the past seven seasons, Sapp led the Tigers to three state playoff appearances and managed the team through several roster transitions.
By forging bonds with players and coaches, he has left new head coach Logan Burt with both a strong roster and tight-knit dugout
For Sapp, he has learned that those connections have been far more rewarding than any win or award could ever be.
“As you get older, you learn it’s not so much about the wins and losses, you realize it’s more about the relationships you build with the kids,” Sapp said. “Every day I’m in communication with either a former player or coach.”
Those important bonds are certainly not limited to his time in Dawson County.
Sapp began his career at Terrell Academy before coaching Washington-Wilkes High School and Washington County.
He then established a successful program at North Oconee when the school opened, where his team was a state playoff contender on a regular basis in an intense region.
For Sapp, knowing that many of his former players and fellow coaches have become branches on his coaching tree is rewarding in itself.
After 11 seasons at North Oconee he came to DCHS, where he made two straight playoff appearances to start and would have the opportunity to coach his sons Palmer and Hudson.
That unique opportunity to coach his kids, combined with a supportive athletic department at DCHS, made for an enjoyable home stretch of his career.
“It was extremely memorable because my boys came through here,” Sapp said. “I never got to miss one of their games, which was fortunate.”
While Sapp mentioned that the program was in good shape before his arrival, he also wanted to make sure he could sustain its success and plan for its future to the best of his ability.
He now believes that the baseball team is in a place where all of its structural needs have been met and that Burt can improve the team further.
“He can do well here,” Sapp said. “I felt like it was a good time for him to take over. He’ll find his niche and his groove and everything will be good.”
One of the reasons that Sapp remains confident about the future of the baseball team is the support it receives from both the school and the community.
“This is a hard-working community that gets supportive of its athletics,” Sapp said. “Because of the traditions that are here and the people who grow up and live here, they support one school and one program. That’s what I really liked about being here.”
But while he may talk about his baseball career in the past tense, he will continue to teach at a junior high level and will also be taking up the role of coaching the freshman football team.
Having arrived at DCHS the same school year as head football coach Sid Maxwell, Sapp will now have the chance to work for and with another coach he has built a rapport with over the years.
As his career winds down, Sapp has had the chance to reflect on the important lessons he has learned over the years, many of which he shared with Burt.
From recognizing patterns to correcting mistakes to helping players focus on the big picture, Sapp has been able to learn from himself and help others as well.
“My motto in life is ‘I want to be better tomorrow’,” Sapp said. “Sometimes you have to tell players not to sweat the small stuff. Keep moving forward. Keep working hard. Good things will happen.”
Now that he will be a fall coach instead of a spring coach, Sapp will have more time to watch his sons play baseball, with Palmer playing for Georgia College and Hudson playing for Ole Miss.
“I want to be able to watch them more and be that dad in the stands instead of looking at my phone or watching it on TV,” Sapp. “I just want to be there.”
As head coach of Tigers baseball, Sapp accrued an overall record of 106-81 with three state playoff appearances.