One dreamed of being a baseball coach all his life.
The other never dreamed of being a coach, much less a teacher.
But here they are — Vidalia High assistant baseball coaches Jake Brumfield and Nicholas Kennedy — assisting Viking head coach Michael Norris in re-building Vidalia High’s baseball team as a force around the state once again.
“If you had told me my freshman year of high school that I would be coaching and teaching I would have laughed,” said Kennedy, who will receive his business degree from Alcorn in December.
“Growing up I always wanted to be a coach,” Brumfield said. “I was thrilled to be able to come back home and have this opportunity open up for me. I took it and ran with it. I had been out of baseball for three years. But this is a big part of my life.”
Brumfield worked in private business upon returning to Vidalia after graduating from Delta State before taking the job at Vidalia High.
“It’s so cool coaching on a field that is two drivers and a pitching wedge from my parents’ house,” he said.
Brumfield, who played youth baseball in Vidalia, has the distinction of being one of the first-ever collegiate pitchers to throw a pitch at the Concordia Recreation District No. 3 complex in 2013.
As a freshman at Pearl River, Brumfield pitched against Baton Rouge Community College in the second game of a doubleheader.
“That was really cool,” Brumfield said.
Brumfield, who graduated from Adams County Christian School after transferring from Trinity, pitched five innings without allowing a run. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out two.
Brumfield played baseball at Pearl River Community College and Delta State, earning two letters at both schools.
Brumfield coached one year as an assistant coach in football before joining Norris’ staff last year.
“Coach Norris has shown me the ropes,” Brumfield said. “He’s a great guy who is in it for all the right reasons. I don’t know anyone with the mind of baseball like he has.”
Brumfield will teach personal finance and financial math at Vidalia.
“It’s awesome to come back here,” Brumfield said. “I see so many of the same faces in the stands that I saw as a kid.”
Brumfield said he doesn’t have any future plans currently, but enjoys being an assistant coach right now.
“Being an assistant coach I don’t have to deal with anything off the field,” he said. “And the field is always ready thanks to the recreation workers. All I have to focus on it what’s going on on the field. I like it that way.”
Brumfield and Kennedy both said they don’t look at it as giving back.
“They give to me just as much as I give to them,” both said.
Brumfield and his wife Madison are expecting their first baby in October.
“I’m excited to know that he will be watching the Vikings and watching his dad coach on the field,” he said.
Kennedy’s father, Nick Kennedy, attended Adams County Christian School before moving away.
Nicholas Kennedy went to school at Southaven High, one of the top athletic programs in Mississippi.
Kennedy signed a baseball scholarship with Pearl River Community College before transferring to Coahoma Community College his sophomore year.
Kennedy said there is a big difference from playing and coaching.
“As a player I was focusing on what I was doing,” Kennedy said. “Now as a coach I am concentrating on what 16 or 17 kids are doing and how to make them better and help us succeed as a team.”
After graduation, Kennedy accepted a coaching job at Vidalia, serving as Vidalia junior high head baseball coach for three years.
He just completed his second year as assistant high school baseball coach. Kennedy also served one year as an assistant coach in football.
Kennedy admitted it was an adjustment coming from Southaven High to Vidalia.
“It was kind of a culture shock,” he said. “Southaven is a 6A school and there’s talent just standing on the side of the road. But I love the atmosphere here. Everybody in Vidalia is supportive of the Vidalia Vikings. We have huge crowds for our junior high games.”
Kennedy said he has been fortunate to coach under Norris.
“The first time I met him I knew that he knew the game,” Kennedy said. “He always has a positive attitude. He preaches fundamentals, which is what the kids need. He is an outstanding guy, great family person and is a great role model.”
Kennedy served as offensive coordinator under Henry Garner the past two years at Vidalia Junior High.
“I love sports and I love the kids,” Kennedy said. “I like kids playing all sports. I like to see them get away from one sport for a while so they don’t get burned out on it.”
Kennedy said he hasn’t really made long-time plans.
My goal is to spread out eventually,” he said. “I like Vidalia.
Kennedy works with Johnny Lee Hoffpauir and Joe Dallalio Jr., at the Recreation District No. 3 Complex.
“I love working with Coach Hoff and Mr. Joe.” he said. “They make this job look easy. I’ve learned a lot working on the fields. I had never seen this aspect of it. Mr. Joe has taught me how to cut the fields properly and how to cut the fields so when it reains it will not take long to dry.”
Like Brumfield, Kennedy is excited about the future of Vidalia baseball,
“We have a lot of young talent,” he said. “I really believe we are going to be solid next year.”