The Union Recorder

March 26, 2014

Hannah brings ‘Be Great’ attitude to BHS

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — What will you do to be great?

What legacy will you leave?

Lee Hannah sketched a map to return Baldwin High School football to winning ways.

For the first time as Baldwin head football coach, Hannah, 36, addressed football team members, parents and school staff supporters at Monday’s Braves’ football banquet. The fiery, passionate newcomer’s message to the student-athletes was simple: You have to work to be great.

“I hang my hat on character, definitely respect and don’t mind a little discipline,” he said. “You’ve got to fear waking up everyday and being a weak link. I’m always trying to get kids in school and hold them accountable. This is someplace I want to start building something special. Why not Baldwin?”

The Louisville, Ga. native graduated from Louisville High School in 1995 before attending Presbyterian College on a football scholarship.

Baldwin’s new head coach began his career at Sandy Creek High School in 2000, where the team won two region championships in five years.

“I was fortunate to coach five guys that went on to the (NFL) one being Calvin Johnson,” Hannah said.

Hannah then spent three years on staff at Mary Persons, two years at Martin Luther King High School and then followed his head coach to Duluth High School.

The Braves’ head coach established a consistent reputation as a defensive coordinator throughout his resume. Each school showed steady improvement.

“It’s all about having people buy into what you are selling,” Hannah said.

His final post with the Mays High School Raiders this past season went well considering the team completed an 8-4 record.

Mays made its first second round GHSA playoff appearance since 2008.

The respected coach replaces Dexter Copeland, who will return to Twiggs County next season. After a four-year head coaching stint with the Braves, the school officially parted ways with him in December 2013.

Under Copeland, the Braves’ win totals peaked at 10 in year one, before dropping to eight, then six and a low point of three last fall.

After losing the final four games, Baldwin missed the playoffs, which is more than a rarity for a traditionally powerful program.

Hannah mentioned those declining wins Monday.

“We have a chance to be special here. Baldwin has always had athletes. We just need to get them coached up and moving in the right direction,” Hannah said. “That’s why I pointed out those numbers. I want to get it back to where Baldwin was in the past — having a shot at a state championship down the road.”

Hopefully, Hannah can attain that community buy-in that is so crucial to football success.

He said he believes Baldwin’s Region 2-AAAA is “winnable.” Hannah has the Mary Persons penciled in already.

The underclassmen Braves heard Hannah’s vision and confident plea to stay at Baldwin to “finish where you started” and because the Braves are “done with mediocrity.”

“You are going to hear the naysayers and the nonbelievers say let’s go somewhere else,” he said Monday. “You’ll have to start all over again there anyway. Why not believe in what this coaching staff is selling? We are going to be here for a while. You guys have to believe. It’s a two-way street. You do right by me. I’ll do right by you.”

Parents and community members are a major portion of Baldwin football’s future achievement.

“I’m looking out for this program and thinking three steps ahead. It’s going to take all of us. I’m going to lean on you like no other,” Hannah said. “Great individuals and great community gives you a great school environment. That’s what we are looking for.”

Baldwin football’s mantra of character, academics and athletics is the basis of Hannah’s head coach approach.

Rising senior wide receiver Brandon Goodman hopes teammates rally around their new leader.

“We’ve got a lot of team chemistry already,” Goodman said. “We just need to put that together and get on the same page.”