After five seasons with five different coaches, the Sandy Creek baseball team has a new voice in the dugout. In late April, the Patriots hired Nick Pou to become the new softball and baseball coach for the upcoming season.
“I am excited to get in there and see what kind of talent we have at the school,” Pou said.
Pou is no stranger to intense GHSA baseball as he has been around it his entire life. He grew up in Athens, GA and played collegiately at Georgia College. He later spent four years as a pitching coach at Winder-Barrow High School before becoming head coach at Bethlehem Christian School.
At Bethlehem Christian, he won a state championship and made a Final Four appearance. From there, he coached five years at Islands High School in Savannah before coming to Sandy Creek.
Pou gives credit to his wife, who is a Fayette County High alum, and family for accepting the job with the Patriots. He always loved helping build and inspire young athletes, and now he has his chance close to do it close to home.
“I think we were in contact within a week with [Sandy Creek Athletic Director] Richard Smith,” Pou said. “I know they had five head coaches in five years, but I want to bring some stability, encouragement, and positive attitudes to the program.”
Just two months into the job, Pou has already started to leave a sizable impression at the school. The culture shift started with Pou instituting new policies that required players to not wear hats indoors, not use foul language, and to care for each other as a team.
The result has immediately boosted the prestige of the program. Several players have returned to the team and are eager to play in his system. Pou hopes that the word continues to spread for him to build the best teams possible.
“The growth of the program has people starting to come back,” Pou said. “People shied away due to the previous changes, but they are returning again. It has really started to grow everything.”
This summer, Pou took the baseball team to several out-of-state tournaments to give them exposure to the college experience. The Patriots played in the Auburn Baseball Camp against elite powerhouses, facing off against Loganville, Mountain View, and two state champions from Alabama and Louisiana. The goal was to allow the players continue to bond together as a unit.
“A lot of what we have being doing this summer is connecting with them and getting recognition that these athletes deserve,” Pou said. “We got some baseball players that can flat out play.”
Pou realizes that it will be a process coaching both the softball and baseball teams, but it’s a challenge he will relish. He has experience pulling double duty as he did it during his stint at Islands High.
His plan is to instill values that extend further than the baseball diamond or softball field. He wants to invest in helping mold the best people in the community.
“We want to play and win games, championships, and trophies, but those things collect dust,” Pou said. “What doesn’t collect dust are being a good wife or husband, father or mother, and a good community citizen. Those are the biggest things we have tried to instill this summer.”
The Lady Patriots return talented sophomores Kaliyah Smith and Grace Arquette. They also have seniors Jillian Davis and Callie Dow returning as well.
On the boys side, the Patriots return seniors Connor Housely, Tyler Peavy, and Demirez Grier. They also have talented juniors Brian Siefert and John Marant back for another run.
“We got a strong upcoming junior class and our upcoming freshman class is tremendous,” Pou said. “I can’t wait for you guys to see them.”
The competition won’t be easy for the Patriots. They have to get through a tough non-region slate and battle against the likes of Cartersville and Chapel Hill in region play.
Pou hopes a strong non-conference slate will help the team succeed early.
“I have known (Whitewater head coach) Rusty Bennett for a while and we played Starr’s Mill when I was at Winder-Barrow,” Pou said. “The county itself is full and we play a couple of teams in Gwinnett this year.”
Still, Pou knows that this season will be all about finding growth in change. He has the pieces, an updated team logo, and a desire to be great. Now, he just has to get the team to put it all together.
“What we have accomplished in a month has been huge, and I look forward to seeing what we can do in the spring and with softball coming up soon,” Pou said.