06/13/04 — All-Area Baseball coaches of the Year Ñ Brice Proctor, Princeton, and Roger May, Spring Creek

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All-Area Baseball coaches of the Year Ñ Brice Proctor, Princeton, and Roger May, Spring Creek

By David Williams
Published in Sports on June 13, 2004 2:00 AM

Ask Spring Creek baseball coach Roger May about Princeton baseball coach Bruce Proctor, and this is what you hear:

"The job that he did all year long is just amazing. You can't ask for anything better -- especially with the young group he has. I just dread seeing them next year."

Proctor's analysis of May sounds similar.

"If I'd had a vote, it would have been for him. He does a good job with everything he does. He kids play well, play hard and they are always well-mannered, and I just enjoy going to play them."

The two are friends, colleagues, and the best baseball coaches to put high school teams on a diamond this season. May's Gators won the school's first-ever Carolina 1-A Conference baseball title. They made a deep run in the Class 1-A playoffs until they were beaten - by Proctor's Bulldogs, who advanced to the state 1-A championship.

The two Carolina 1-A Conference coaches have taken similar paths in the past few seasons. May built the Spring Creek program from scratch three years ago, while Proctor has resurrected Princeton from the ashes of a team that plummeted from the elite after winning two state titles in three years in the early 1990s.

Putting the performance of one over the other just did not seem right. So both May and Proctor were selected as co-winners of the News-Argus Coach of the Year.

Proctor's Bulldogs developed a knack for coming from behind - something they did 11 times this season. That ability to rally was the key to the Bulldogs surge to a playoff spot and remarkable run to the eastern 1-A regional title.

"One of the things we do is try to get better every day," he said. "Some of the things these kids do, you just can't coach it -- playing from behind and that kind of thing, But they're there every day and they work hard every day and they try to get better every day. That makes me proud, to know they have that mentality each day. They're not just showing up to practice, they're working on something to get better."

May's season can be summed up with something he called 'the light switch.'

"The biggest thing with our kids was just believing they could play with these guys," he said. "When the light switch comes on, these guys are going to play the game ... we got some big wins and the next thing you know, the light switch came on and these guys figured out that they could play with these other teams."

The coaching styles of the two men are different. May is more of a disciplinarian and mentor, while Proctor is a fun-loving, big-brother kind of coach.

"Every week I ask my guys, 'Can you believe they are paying me to do this?' " said Proctor. "I love what I do. We've got nice facilities and nice equipment to work with, but I think the most important thing is we've got such good kids. We've got some good young 'un's over there to work with, and it's an honor for me to work with them.

"It's not me by no means -- it's those kids."

May's goal was to build the kind of tradition that other area schools have enjoyed.

"You look at Greene Central, you look at Aycock, you look at Southern Wayne, you look at Eastern Wayne -- those guys have been around a long time," May said. "When they walk on the field, they have a tradition they have to follow. That's what we talk about a lot in reference to building that foundation, that tradition. So when other young kids come out to the ball game, they see it and they know what to expect when they come to our program."

May will lose seven seniors from this team, and he expects a rebuilding project next spring, Proctor will lose just one senior and should be one of the top teams in the league next season.

But neither coach will rule the other out -- not any other team in the league.

"I think this conference is too good to say that," said Proctor.

"Our conference is one of the strongest in North Carolina," added May.

And good coaching is part of the reason why.