Longtime assistant Jason Page, a 1997 JCHS graduate, is taking over as head baseball coach.
“People have always told me I would know when it is time to stop coaching, and I thought they were crazy. But it was time,” Veal said of the decision. “I’ve been coaching baseball 24 years, and it was still fun. It was still a game. It wasn’t a job. I’ll miss being with the players and other baseball coaches every day, but I’m excited with the opportunity to stay here as athletic director. I’m looking forward to being around all of the players and coaches of all of the other sports.”
Veal, who this year was elected to the Macon Sports Hall of Fame, graduated from First Presbyterian Day School in 1983, where he was an all-state basketball and baseball player. He went on to play baseball at Mercer and briefly in the minor leagues for the Detroit Tigers.
He was head baseball coach at John Milledge Academy for three years and an assistant at Mercer one year before coming to Jones County. He finishes his high school coaching career with a 462-191 record.
Page pitched in college at Mercer for four years after graduating from Jones County, then was an assistant coach at Newton County for six years before returning to the Greyhounds as an assistant seven years ago.
“Coach Veal and I talked when he hired me, and he asked if I wanted to be a head coach one day,” Page said. “I thought I was ready then, but I’m so glad I had the opportunity to work and learn under him. I know now that I wasn’t ready then. He has exposed me to so much, and having the chance to watch him handle different situations and difficult decisions has taught me so much.
“Working under him has been a privilege and great learning experience. I think I’m ready now to make those hard decisions,” Page added. “I’m excited, and I hope the kids and the community are excited, too.”
Veal and head softball coach Blake Lyons have served for several years as assistant athletic directors under Gibson, who has been principal and athletic director.
Gibson said Veal will now handle all athletic administration duties but that they will continue to work together closely.
Gibson also praised both Veal and Page and said he was confident they will excel in their new positions.
“I don’t know of another coaching position here in Jones County that has the pressure and expectations that being baseball coach here does,” Gibson said. “And Barry did a remarkable job.
“Jason knows Jones County and knows the expectations of the program,” Gibson added. “He’s performed at the next level when he played at Mercer, so he knows what it takes to get there. He’s grown as an assistant coach here. Coach Veal felt he was ready to take on this challenge, and I feel the same way.”
Veal said the other high school assistants will remain as assistants under Page – Jay Jones, Chris Martin and Brandon Davis – and that Dan Wright will move up from being head coach at Clifton Ridge Middle School to coach the ninth-grade team.
Clay Brindger will take over as head coach at Clifton Ridge, with Trey Smith serving as his assistant.