BARTOW BIO: Winning game: Chester says key to success is players, community
by Jessica Loeding
Jun 05, 2011 | 1392 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One peek inside the clubhouse at Richard Bell Field and it is clear the building is home to a winner. Posters, photos, plaques and even an autographed home plate cover the walls of Cartersville High School head baseball coach Stuart Chester's office.

The coach has just finished mowing the field on a sweltering June morning when asked if he likes purple. Everything is purple -- purple walls, purple clothes, purple uniforms.

"It's royalty," he says with a smile. "That's what they tell me."

That is the closest the head coach of the Georgia Dugout Club's Team of the Decade comes to admitting just how successful he has been with the Purple Hurricanes. He has 400 career wins and five state championships -- earned in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009.

Ironically, Chester refers to baseball as a "game of failure." He explains he advises his players that they will face failure at three levels -- personal, game and season.

But nothing on the field or in Chester's positive outlook speaks of failure.

A look around the stadium draws eyes to two rows of "reserved seats." Sixty-nine stadium seats between the dugout and home plate are reserved for parents of varsity players before being opened up to outsiders.

"We have a waiting list," the coach says.

And as long as Chester keeps the Canes winning, the spectators will continue waiting.

Name: Stuart Mitchell Chester

Age: 46

Occupation: Cartersville High School teacher and head coach of the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes baseball team

City of residence: Kingston, has lived in Bartow County for 15 years

Family: Married to Jessica Leigh Chester for two years; five children, Ryan, David, Laura, Sarah and Abbey

Education: Dawson County High, attended DeKalb Junior College, Augusta State College and North Georgia College & State University; received his masters degree from Jacksonville State University and a specialist degree from LMU.

Did you play sports during your school career? If so, which ones, what position and for how long?

A: In high school I played football, basketball and baseball. I signed a ... scholarship in baseball and was a pitcher. [During] high school I played shortstop and pitched. Football, I was quarterback and running back and linebacker. Basketball, I was the point guard.

How did you become an educator and baseball coach?

A: My dream was to play baseball for a living. I was injured my junior year in college and that dream was gone. I wanted to stay involved with sports and competition, so I continued college and got my degree in health and physical education. Probably one of the major reasons I chose this profession was my high school coach, Nicky Gilliland. He made a huge impact on my life. The first few years of my career, I coached three sports - football, baseball and basketball. Here at Cartersville, I coached football and baseball for 11 years. Both sports make the job of coach a year-round job so I now just concentrate on baseball.

What is the secret to your success on the baseball field?

A: I don't know that there is a secret to success. I think I am very fortunate to be the coach of the Hurricane baseball team. There have been a lot of good baseball players come through this program. I believe in the philosophy that good players will make you a good coach. The parents and community allow us - or give us - the opportunity to be successful. They give us so much support. Also, the Little League program and the Cartersville Parks and Recreation [Department] do a great job of teaching the fundamentals of the game and giving our young athletes a positive environment to learn in and to grow as a baseball player.

I guess the key to success is to be a head coach for Cartersville High School in Cartersville, Ga.

How did it feel to reach 400 wins and have your team named Team of the Decade this year?

A: Reaching 400 wins was special. Again, I want everyone to understand I haven't hit the first ball, thrown a pitch or scored any runs. I have been blessed to be the coach. The best thing I guess about the 400 wins is all the players that made that happen.

I was more excited about the award of program of the decade. This is an award for everyone, not just this year's players but all those that have been part of the program for the last decade. This is also an award that the community can be proud of because nothing would have been accomplished this decade without them.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received? What wisdom do you share with your players?

A: When you coach baseball, you get so much advice from a lot of people. Believe me. I don't know if there is just one piece of advice that I think is the most valuable. My grandfather and dad always say, 'Never do business with family and always let the other person do all the talking.'

As far as baseball, I guess it would be, 'There's more to the game than the score.'

I don't know if this would fall under wisdom, but I always tell our players we will focus and do the little things - things from picking up trash from the field to wearing our hat right. If we do the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.

If you weren't coaching baseball and in education, what would you be doing?

A: If I wasn't coaching baseball and teaching, I would be in NASCAR. That would be the one thing I would do if I could. I guess, being from Dawsonville, it's in my blood.

What makes Bartow County special to you?

A: The people make this county special. There are schools everywhere. There are baseball fields everywhere. There are malls, restaurants, stores and communities everywhere. The only thing they are missing are the people of Bartow County.

What is your favorite meal?

A: My favorite meal is any meal that is free, just kidding. I guess it would have to be a ribeye steak and baked potato.

What hobbies do you enjoy in your spare time?

A: Hobbies? I love to hunt. I also love to play golf. I like tinkering with woodwork, especially if I had all the tools.

After so much success here in high school baseball, where do you go from here?

A: I hope I don't go anywhere. I have had some opportunities to go other places, but it always seems that the baseball program and all the people involved are always something that I can't let go. Who knows what's in front of us? For right now, I am focusing on Cartersville baseball.