East Surry athletics have always had a special place in the life of Nate Bowman.
The 46-year-old played baseball for the Cardinals’ high school team and coached youth sports in the Pilot Mountain community since he graduated in 1987.
However, Bowman is going to have to trade all of his red clothes for some blue ones next spring when he becomes the softball coach at North Surry High School.
“I’ll always be a part of East Surry,” Bowman said. “I do stats for their football teams and will still hang around the program, but when softball comes around, I will be a Greyhound.”
Bowman’s first coaching gig was for the East Surry senior division baseball team in 1988. His high school coach, Barry Hall, asked Bowman to coach the team.
He developed a passion for coaching and got heavily involved in the Little League systems that support East Surry. Eventually, he was a coach for baseball, softball and basketball teams in the area.
He’s always coached his daughter, Laken Bowman, and last season he spent his first season at the high school level as an assistant for the Cardinals’ softball team.
North Surry approached Bowman this summer about its opening for a head softball coach after just one year of experience at the high school level. He believes that his time and success involved with youth sports in the area prompted the Greyhounds to reach out to him.
Bowman had a big decision to make, and he felt a connection to the girls at East Surry because he coached many of them during their Little League days, but this opportunity was too good to pass up.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to become a head coach, especially at the high school level,” Bowman said. “It was hard to leave (East Surry), but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
On the field, Bowman models his offensive tactics after the ones he learned from his time at East Surry under Coach Hall. Bowman loves to bunt, steal, and move runners over.
“That’s the way I was taught, and it’s how I’ve always thought the game should be played. I love small-ball,” Bowman said.
Defensively, the coach specializes in teaching the catcher and pitcher positions because those were his daughter’s specialties throughout her youth career. His coaching mixed with his daughter’s talent landed Laken a spot on the Surry Community College softball team next spring.
He doesn’t exactly know who he’ll be working within these departments at North Surry, but he does know his philosophy when it comes to pitching.
“Softball is so different because there are no limits on a pitcher,” Bowman said. “It’ll be nice to have depth, but if you have one girl who’s been pitching well and is the ace of your team, you got to throw her as much as you can.”
Bowman will take over a team that went 11-10 last season, and he is looking to build a winning program.
However, winning isn’t the reason he continues to pursue his dream of coaching.
“The biggest thing I get out of coaching are the relationships,” Bowman said. “I’ve coached kids that I’ve also coached their parents, and seeing those kids excited to play for me means everything. But if you can build relationships and trust, the winning will come.”
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16