By Tim Chambers
It’s pretty special when Johnson County knocks off Elizabethton and Happy Valley in back-to-back games. It’s even more special when they total 309 and 310 victories.
That’s the number that current head baseball coach Pete Pavusek has accumulated since his arrival as head coach at Johnson County 22 seasons ago.
It’s quite a remarkable accomplishment considering today’s coaching fraternity throughout East Tennessee.
One of Pavusek’s wins came over Cyclones’ head coach, Ryan Presnell. Pavusek respects him despite the rivalry.
“Coach Presnell has those kids headed in the right direction,” said Pavusek. “He’s a great coach now and will get even better. That was a great hire for them.”
His 309th victory was a 9-2 win over the Cyclones. He was rewarded by Presnell with a return compliment.
“I love Coach Pavusek and I’ve got a ton of respect for him,” said Presnell. “They are competitive every year. He does a great job and he does it right. He gets a lot out of his players and demands discipline.”
Pavusek had a hard time recalling who his first victory was against. He had to think for a minute.
“For some odd reason I think it was Unaka,” said Pavusek. “It’s just hard to recall because it’s been so long. If we beat them, we beat a good team.”
Pavusek has seen a ton of changes in the game over his 22-year span as skipper. He touched on a few of those.
“There is so much more to it now,” added Pavusek. “The game has gotten very detailed. You got all these little intricate things and nuisances, everything is specialized. You’ve got all kinds of plays to work on and do. There are different situations throughout the game and you’ve got to be on top of it.”
Pavusek thanked all his assistant coaches and especially current one, Jerry Whitener.
“He’s a great man, a great coach and friend and I don’t know what we would do without him,” said Pavusek. “We’ve had some good ones up, here but Jerry has been one of the best.”
Behind every good coach you have to have good players. Pavusek recalls a few but said there have been many.
“I’ve been blessed to have so many good kids come through here,” added Pavusek. “One of those is Rafael Zabala who is doing great things for the city of Johnson City in the restaurant business and the downtown projects going on there.
Another was Chris Gambill who struck out 188 batters his senior season with 2.7 average strikeouts per inning.
“That stands out like a sore thumb,” said Pavusek with a grin. “I remember his mother, Angie, and how she and the community stood behind me. She is one of the greatest women that I’ve ever come across in my lifetime. I’ll never forget her and the people in this community for standing up for me during a tough time.”
Good years, longevity and great people have a tendency to change things. Pavusek knows he’s been blessed to be a part of the Johnson County community.
“I love being a fixture in this community and I’m proud of it,” added Pavusek. “I couldn’t have imagined going anywhere else and now I’m getting to see my boys grow up in it. Petie is now a freshman playing for me, and Peyton is a sixth grader.”
Pavusek said one of his greatest moments was going to the sub-state with Ryan Mahala and company. But even now he says it’s all about the kids.
“We’ve won some and we’ve lost some,” added Pavusek about his total. “But reaching 310 would not be possible without good people around me. I have a good wife (Diana) and great kids. I’ve been blessed with wonderful players and assistant coaches plus some good administration people. They all deserve credit too.”
Just like Pavusek.
310 is not an easy number of wins to come by.
Coach Pete Pavusek