After 22 years, Baxley transitioning from sideline to script lines

May 1, 2013 

Sid Baxley’s acting bug occasionally crawled out even as he roamed sidelines for Houston County High School.

During his tenure as girls basketball coach, Baxley unleashed his best theatrics at the most critical junctures of a game. One of his favorite vignettes: feigning a heated discussion with a shooting guard while a teammate inbounded the ball under the Bears’ basket. Ignored by the opposition, the shooter would then slip to the corner for an uncontested 3-point shot. The ploy garnered him no Oscars, but it did generate a few wins.

“I had a couple of girls who could shoot really well, so I think I tried it first with Anna Orr and no one seemed to ever come out and cover it so we kept doing it,” Baxley wrote in an email. “Cassie Stuart was good, but the best I would say was Brittany Torrain. She hit two shots in the semifinals of the region tournament against Tift County. One tied the game and the other pretty much sealed it.”

If you’re going to act, may as well get paid for it. And so it is that after 22 years in the Houston County school system, Baxley and Lisa, his wife of 10 years, are moving to Norcross to concentrate on a second career: acting.

The scene change has been in production for a while. Click on Baxley’s Facebook page and you’ll see a background image of him fitting bait on a hook with a young child. The photo is a still from an Internet commercial Baxley made for Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. Teaching and coaching duties limit availability for auditions, however. Now, the Baxleys are all in.

Sid’s departure marks the end of an era. He is the last of the original Houston County High coaching staff Athletics Director Doug Johnson assembled when the school opened in 1991. Baxley coached defensive backs in football and baseball at the time.

“I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart and many good friends in Warner Robins,” Baxley wrote. “Houston County High has been home for me for 22 years and I can’t imagine being in a better place or working with better people than I had the privilege to do so while here.”

Over the years, Baxley found his niche with the girls basketball and soccer programs. He won close to 200 varsity games with each. The programs produced a handful of region championships and consistent state championship appearances. In fact, the Lady Bears were scheduled to open their 16th consecutive state soccer playoff appearance Tuesday at Richmond Hill.

But Baxley will be long-remembered and sorely missed for more than the avuncular figure he cut as coach. An easy conversationalist with a diverse set of interests, Baxley is universally well-liked.

His refusal to get overly excited about the mundane strikes some as a lack of passion, but Baxley knows the value of things. Should he forget, his 7-year-old daughter Grace -- the middle of the couple’s three children -- quickly sets him straight.

Grace has been in and out of hospitals for years while suffering a seizure disorder that in turn was the result of a structural defect of her brain. Her trials have made her a hit within the community. Baxley marvels at her constantly upbeat attitude.

“After all she’s been through, Grace can keep a smile on her face, so how could I ever complain about my lot in life?” Baxley said.

It’s noteworthy that during one of Grace’s hospitalizations, Baxley began to lose weight. Eating mostly just what Grace didn’t, Baxley dropped from a robust 330 pounds to as low as 195. He’s hoping he has settled in about 220 now.

“It was easy to lose and now it’s hard to keep off,” he admitted. “I still like eating.”

Lisa acts too, so they’re changing direction together. This is no mere mid-life crisis for Sid.

The move to Norcross puts them closer to their agent, their acting classes and their future opportunities.

Take two.

Contact Deighan at cdeighan@cox.net

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