Portal Middle High School has selected Russ Winter to lead its baseball program for the 2019-2020 season. The Board of Education approved Winter’s transfer from Statesboro High School during a review of personnel recommendations at its April 25 work session. Winter, a high school mathematics teacher and baseball coach at the middle and high school level, will assume the faculty and coaching positions previously held by Dennis Moore and David Hodges.
“I am beyond excited for this opportunity to work with Dr. Julie Blackmar and Justin Chester as a high school math teacher and head varsity baseball,” Winter said. Patrick Hill, PMHS’s current principal, in his collaborative transition with incoming principal and assistant principal, Julie Blackmar and Justin Chester, asked the new administrators to play an integral role in the selection process.
“Dr. Blackmar and I are excited,” said Chester, who will also serve as Portal’s athletic director beginning July 1. “Coach Winter expects peak performance on the baseball field and in the classroom. His strong work ethic, teaching expertise, and exemplary leadership qualities will help him make a positive impact on our students.”
Winter has served the school district since July 2015, as a math teacher at Statesboro High School, and one season as the head baseball coach at William James Middle School. “I wish nothing but the best for the talented group of young men that I worked with on the baseball teams at William James and Statesboro High,” Winter said. “I will miss the relationships I have formed with my co-workers, but I am eager to begin my role in Portal.”
Winter brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience to the diamond. He has coached with some of the top baseball coaches in the state. While an assistant coach at Harlem High School, he learned from a legend, Coach Jimmie Lewis, the second all-time winningest active coach in Georgia with over 700 wins and five state championships. Winter’s time at Statesboro High paired him with Coach Jim Simmons, whom he calls “the most knowledgeable baseball coach in Georgia.”
As a high school athlete at Greenbrier High School (2003-2007), Winter was the starting catcher his junior and senior years when the team won back-to-back GHSA State Championships under the leadership of Ed Williams and Rodney Holder. He advanced to the collegiate level with Middle Georgia College, but a career-ending injury during his first season ushered in his transition to coaching, and he returned briefly to his alma mater, Greenbrier High School, to serve as an assistant coach for summer baseball.
Winter went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Georgia Southern University with a minor in Exercise Science and coaching emphasis. He obtained his master’s degree in teaching from Georgia Regents University. He began his career as an educator in 2013, with the Columbia County Board of Education teaching math at Harlem High School. During his tenure there, he served as an assistant varsity baseball coach, head varsity cross country coach, and head varsity girls basketball coach. He came to Statesboro High in July 2015, and has served as an assistant varsity baseball coach, math teacher, and tenth-grade team leader. While completing his undergraduate degree at GA Southern, Winter was an assistant baseball coach for the Blue Devils.
“I know the knowledge and experiences I gained through working with such great men have helped prepare me for leading the Portal Panthers,” Winter said.
Winter has served the community as a youth All-Star teams coach and with the Around the Horn baseball program. He is also the vice-president of the Southern Eagle Football Officials Association and has been an official for three Georgia High School Association state championship football games.
“Coach Winter and his wife, Miranda, are actively involved in various Bulloch County leadership and service organizations,” said Chester. “The relationships that they’ve built within these organizations will certainly benefit the Portal school community.”
“I look forward to impacting the lives of young people in both the classroom and on the ball field,” Winter said. “The time and energy that I will dedicate to the Portal community would not be possible without the loving support of my wife, Miranda.”
Winter will fill the high school mathematics position currently held by Dennis Moore, who will transfer to Southeast Bulloch High School to teach math effective July 1. Moore, who had also been PMHS head baseball coach until 2018, was selected four times as a STAR Teacher, by PMHS’s STAR students in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018. Moore also coached his trigonometry students in the Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia’s (SMSG) annual Trig-Star Math Competition where them won second-place in the state twice and third-place in state three times.
“I know the community and players will be excited to have someone of Russ Winter’s caliber as their teacher and coach,” Moore said. Moore is returning to SEBHS where he spent his first nine years as an educator, but at this time he will not serve as a coach. David Hodges served as the PMHS Head Baseball Coach for the 2018-2019 season.
Information from Bulloch County Schools.