EASLEY — The Easley Green Wave has a new man at the helm of the athletic department and the move is anticipated to be one with positive results for the program’s future. And it was all an accident.
With the announcement of Gill Payne as the high school’s new Director of Athletics, Easley suddenly gains a wealth of experience at the high school and college level, something unexpected by both parties.
“My son recently graduated from college and wants to coach baseball at the high school level,” Payne explained with a chuckle. “I was on a website looking for an opportunity for him when I saw the opening at Easley. I read what they were looking for and I ended up applying for the position.”
Offering nine years of college AD experience, 11 years as a college educator and advisor, over eight years as a secondary school teacher and administrator, 11 years as the head baseball coach at Brevard College, and seven more at the high school level — not to mention six years as a business owner sprinkled in somewhere — Payne is a high school program’s dream come true.
All that was left was for Payne and his wife of 26 years, Carol, was to decide what a new place like Easley would be like for them and their family.
“We actually came down a day before my interview,” Payne said. “We came down Sunday night and kind of talked to people about the community and the program and what people had to say was so positive. Everyone was passionate about this high school and its potential and had nothing but great things to say about the community.”
A family meeting or two later and what had begun as a blip on Gill Payne’s radar and the simple curious click of a mouse ended by beginning a new era of Green Wave athletics.
For Payne this wasn’t a decision made as a stepping stone. It was a life choice.
“If we as a family hadn’t fallen in love with this opportunity, this community, we wouldn’t be coming to Easley,” Payne related. “Where we are now (Bristol, Tenn.), that’s our home, that’s where we’re from. Where we live now, we get to spend time with our kids and family, but this is one of those opportunities that just don’t come along every day and we all agreed this is what we wanted for us.”
The Payne family consists of Gill and Carol along with son Jarrod, 23, the aspiring baseball coach and teacher, and daughter Tori, 20, a sophomore Human Organizational Development major with a minor in Corporate Strategies.
It might sound like Tori is looking to break the mold and move away from baseball, but Payne seems proud she wants to ply her skills in the corporate world of professional baseball. The sport might run in the blood.
As for the opportunity itself, Payne has done some research and is beginning to formulate some potential directions for the programs.
“It’s a plus, coming in in the middle of the year, because I get the spring to get my feet wet and get to know everyone,” the new AD said. “But right from the start I want to see us do some things with the website, make sure we have some resources out there for the fans and families of these kids. I’d like to see us get as much exposure as we can for all of our student athletes. I’ll have the chance to get to know the staff and administration before summer.”
It’s impossible to know what the future holds but at the very least as the Paynes are welcomed to town there’s always the story about how the click of a mouse changed the lives of a family and an athletic program.