Dirk Thomas is the new baseball coach at Wando High School.
Wando athletic director Bob Hayes made the announcement Wednesday, ending two months of speculation about the replacement for Banks Faulkner, who was head coach for one year before returning to his hometown of Lexington to serve as pitching coach.
Hayes said 35 people applied for the job and four were interviewed. Thomas, a 46-year-old native of Martins Ferry, Ohio, was the man for the job.
Thomas visited a friend in the Lowcountry in 1988 and soon after decided to seek employment as a teacher and coach. He landed a job in Berkeley County and never left.
"He is very familiar with baseball in the Lowcountry, having spent his entire 23 years teaching and coaching career in Berkeley and Charleston County," Hayes said. "Dirk will bring a level of maturity and high character that will allow the tradition of excellence to continue in our baseball program. His leadership skills and knowledge of the game allowed him to stand out in the interview process."
In 1996, Thomas joined Gary Murphy's baseball staff at Charleston Southern University as a volunteer assistant and served five years in the position. Thomas praised Murphy for the opportunity and called the experience invaluable even though he didn't get paid.
He was named the head football coach at Garrett Tech in 2002 and remained there before landing the Wando job.
"To me, this is one of the best opportunities out there," Thomas said. "Everything just fell into place and I'm thankful to Coach Hayes. I'm a little nervous about it. But in this case, nervous is good. I can't wait to get started. It's going to be a great year."
Wando posted an 18-10 record in 2011 but has suffered some big personnel losses.
Shortstop Connor Bright, the Post and Courier's player of the year, is headed to Columbia to play for South Carolina. All-state second baseman Jordan Eysen graduated, while two-time All-Lowcountry selection Nick Ciuffo is transferring to Lexington.
"We still have talent," said Thomas, who also has coached for the Diamond Warriors and Diamond Devils travel teams. "I think we have a good nucleus. It's just a matter of some of the younger guys stepping up."