Pride runs deep in Lumberton. It can be found in the community, at the school and in the black and red uniforms the Panthers wear in every sport.
For newly-hired Lumberton baseball coach Lance Hendrix, it starts with how the facilities look. Hendrix, who is a native of Lumberton and was approved last week by the Lamar County School District as the school’s new baseball coach, takes a lot of pride in taking care of his facilities.
Even though he hasn’t been on the job long, he’s already working on Lumberton’s baseball field and its indoor hitting facility.
“I think it builds pride in the program,” Hendrix said. “People show up, they see your facility and how it looks, they know right there that this program has a lot of pride. I think it carries over on to the field with how you play.”
While he’ll have plenty of time to work on his facilities before the 2020 baseball season, Hendrix is thrilled to be working on the field he grew up playing on as a Lumberton Panther.
“I’m very excited and I look forward to it,” Hendrix said of getting the job. “It’s fun to come back to my hometown where I know a lot of people.”
Hendrix served as the head coach at Poplarville from 2013 to 2017, and he spent last season as an assistant under Joe Hartfield at Hattiesburg High. Hendrix has become the second Hattiesburg assistant in as many years to obtain a head-coaching gig. Eddie Easley took over the Meridian program last year, and both Easley and Hendrix left Hattiesburg with more coaching knowledge than when they each arrived.
“(Hartfield) puts his system in place and that’s how his program is going to run,” Hendrix said. “He holds those kids accountable. It was great to be under that system for a year and see how he operates and handles those talented kids they have.”
When Hendrix was in college and still living in Lumberton, Hartfield was coaching some quality Lumberton teams. A graduate of LHS in 1995, he played under another legendary Pine Belt coach, Tony Farlow. In fact, Hendrix has played for Farlow, coached for Farlow and coached against Farlow while at Poplarville.
“Those two guys have had a lot of influence on my coaching career,” Hendrix said. “When I was in college, Hartfield was the head coach of Lumberton and I was living here. I watched a lot of those good teams in the 2000s that he had. He was a big influence there and it was a privilege to go work under him last year.
“Playing for Farlow, doing my student coaching with Farlow and coaching against him while I was at Poplarville, he’s had a big influence on my career.”
The Panthers went 17-8 overall this season and advanced to the second round of the 1A playoffs. They have five seniors who graduated in May, but a large group of experienced underclassmen return next season.