MILLEDGEVILLE — A minor facelift took place for Georgia Military Prep School recently, as the Bulldogs have announced the replacements for John Griffin, head girls basketball coach, and Athletic Director Garry Couch, also softball and baseball head coach, who announced their retirements earlier this spring.
GMC Prep chose Steven Simpson to follow in the footsteps of legendary Couch as athletic director, as Simpson plans to continue to promote character and bring in new ideas to help the school continue to improve athletically.
“It’s exciting, but it’s also nerve-racking at the same time,” Simpson said. “At GMC, we’re a school of character, and we want to continue that, and we want to make more of a difference in the community. We want to try and build our sports programs by doing all the right things in the classroom and on the field.”
The first steps to improving the athletic program for the Bulldogs will be the addition of new coaches.
GMC Prep will see new looks in the future on the diamonds as Allen Simmons and Julie Brooker will take over the helm of the baseball and softball programs next season.
Simpson is believes it helps that Simmons has already coached for GMC Prep under Couch, having already built solid relationships on and off the field.
“Coach Simmons, having been here for a couple years, he already has relationships with some of the kids,” Simpson said. “Being a new face for the school, I think it’s going to be exciting.”
For softball, Simpson believes the addition of Brooker will be exactly what the Lady Bulldogs need to continue their long line of success as well.
“She’s been very successful everywhere she’s been,” Simpson said. “I think Coach Brooker, with a new outlook, might be able to push the buttons a certain way to get them to the next level, and I think she’s going to do a great job.”
While both programs have experienced much success in the past, both Simmons and Brooker plan to bring new ideas to the teams.
“Something I’d really like to do is take the kids to Florida for a few days during spring break, so you know, they’re not missing out on all the vacation, but we’re still playing baseball,” Simmons said.
As a former baseball assistant coach under Couch, Simmons says that because GMC Prep is already an established baseball team in the state, there is not much need for total reconstruction.
“The good thing about Coach Couch being here is he laid a foundation, so there doesn’t have to be a total 180 turn. We can build on what he’s already put in place,” Simmons said. “We’re going to get in some tournaments this summer and play a lot of games and get in a lot of practice.”
Brooker, who led her teams at the Westfield School in Perry to four region championships and two state runner-up performances will transition from coaching softball in the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) to the Georgia High School Association (GHSA).
“I really, really liked what I saw at the school [GMC Prep] as far as the facilities and the people. I came away thinking this could be a good opportunity,” she said. “What really interests me was my first opportunity to move over to the GHSA from the GISA. The biggest challenge is going to be learning the field of competition.”
Also joining the staff in the fall will be Kevin Furtado who will take over head coaching duties of the women’s basketball team.
“He’s very energetic. He’s been coaching for a while, but he’s got tons of wins and region championships,” Simpson said. “From everything I’ve seen, I think he can establish that relationship with the girls and get them to that next level.”
Furtado, who will be coming to GMC Prep from Union County High School in Morganfield, Ky., brings a wealth of experience to the Lady Bulldogs, after coaching women’s basketball for 22 seasons and doing well at the state level.
“We’re going to play an exciting brand of basketball — basketball where it’s going to be fun to watch. You’re not playing for the crowd, by any means, but you have to play a certain style that creates a lot of excitement so people will want to come and watch,” Furtado said. “I’m excited about the opportunity. It’s going to be fun.”
With many new faces on staff, the Bulldogs approach the upcoming seasons with optimism and excitement.
“The GMC athletic program across the board has been improving. Bringing in the new coaches adds something new, and it just creates some excitement,” Simpson said. “It’s a lot of change, but sometimes change is good.”