Black forced out, Harris resigns for family reasons
By Andy Reed
Brian Black was called to the principal's office Friday and faced a surprising no-win decision which left the Lebanon High teacher/baseball coach without a job for next school year.
"I didn't really have a choice," Black, 29, said Monday night. "I could either resign or be terminated. I chose to resign."
Another LHS coach also chose to resign, though of her own volition, as softball coach April Harris stepped down, also after two seasons, citing family reasons.
Black's second year as a special ed English teacher will end this week. His second season as Blue Devil baseball coach ended three weeks ago with an overall record of 11-24, including 8-22 in the 2013 season.
"They just decided to make a change," said Black, who came to LHS from Whites Creek in Nashville and did not have tenure. "When you get this kind of call, they don't have to give you a legitimate answer, just because I'm not tenured.
"It was surprising to me, to be quite honest."
The Illinois native guided the Blue Devils to a 3-22 season in 2012, their last at Veterans Field in Baird Park. He moved the operation to the new Brent Foster Field where Lebanon continued to struggle with the won-loss record, but run-ruled Beech, a team which advanced to the Region 5-AAA tournament.
Lebanon lost to Beech 3-2 in eight innings in the district tournament and had Wilson Central an out from elimination before the Wildcats rallied to oust the Blue Devils in nine.
"We made some significant progress over the course of the year with our young guys," Black said. "We are on the upswing and it's disappointing I won't be a part of this.
"The program's headed in the right direction."
In addition to his coaching and teaching, Black's time at LHS was significant in that he rescued a 20-year-old former student who was having a seizure in his car, which was stopped on the railroad tracks near the old campus with the Music City Star fast approaching. He removed the young man from his car while another passer-by was able to signal the commuter train to stop.
Harris, 30, compiled a 40-35-1 record in two seasons with the Lady Devils. She is the reigning District 9-AAA Coach of the Year after Lebanon went 21-15, winning the league's South Division.
"It was my goal to gain respect for Lebanon softball," said Harris, whose Lady Devils got off to a slow start in her first season before rallying to a final 19-20-1 mark in 2011. "We started playing great ball at the end of last year and it carried on into this year."
Harris said her grandfather has been diagnosed with a late stage of lung cancer and will move from the family's native Lawrenceburg to live with her in Lebanon.
"It was a very hard decision," Harris said, noting the time factor of taking care of her grandfather. "My athletic director [Darian Brown] told me softball will always be here."
A special education case manager, she was an assistant under Brad Rowlett for six seasons before Rowlett moved to Mt. Juliet. The former Cumberland center fielder/leadoff hitter also spent several seasons as a girls' basketball assistant and one year as head girls' soccer coach. An eight-year teaching veteran, she has tenure and will remain on the faculty.