Portal’s Travis Motes was asked each of the last four years about possibly taking over as head baseball coach. The fourth time must have been the charm as Motes has officially taken the job as the Panthers' head coach.
“Things have changed a bit in my life recently, and I feel I am finally in a good spot to take over,” Motes said. “They’ve asked me a few times, and things just weren’t going to work out. Things will still be a little hectic, but I feel like I comfortably do both softball and baseball.”
“Coach Motes will now be the ‘King of the Turpentine City Diamonds’ as he was already holding the head varsity softball position,” said Portal athletic director Justin Chester. “His new role will keep him busy year round, but that is nothing new for Travis because last year he coached varsity softball, swim, and middle school baseball.”
“Coach Motes is a proud Portal alumnus who has coached multiple sports at PMHS for a number of years,” Chester said. “He also represents a family that has shed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears over the years to help the Panthers excel on and off the field. He will bring a lot of heart and passion to the baseball program.”
Motes led the Portal softball team to the state playoffs this past season. The Panthers were led by his eldest daughter Kolbie, who is off to play at East Georgia College this fall. The Bobcat softball season will conflict with Portal’s baseball season, but Motes feels he will still be able to get to a few of the East Georgia games to watch Kolbie.
“The good thing is many of the East Georgia games are on the weekend, when we don’t play,” Motes said. “The games I was planning on going to don’t really interfere with baseball season, so I really won’t be stressing out.”
Juggling sports schedules is nothing new for the Motes family. His middle child Marlie currently plays on the Portal softball team, and Travis could be coaching his youngest child Brodie as soon as next year on the portal junior varsity team.
“I am going to try and put the eighth graders in with the rising freshman to have a true junior varsity team,” Motes said. “I really think this will help us out, and give those kids a valuable experience of playing in games. We will have our sixth and seventh graders play other teams sixth and seventh grade teams, to give them good experience as well.”
The Panther struggled through a winless baseball campaign in 2019, but really looked like they had turned the corner last season under first year head coach Russ Winter, who left recently to take over as assistant principal at Bryan County High School.
“I am so thankful for the job coach Winter did last season in helping to turn things around,” Motes said “We are hoping to build on that success this season. I know we have around 20 kids I expect to be coming out for baseball this year, and I know we have some talented players in that group.”
“A lot of positive outreach was done last year with Coach Winter and Coach Brantley Spence,” Chester said. “They worked hard to get more alumni support for the baseball program, and we expect that momentum to continue with Coach Motes. His dedication to his faith, family, and career will be a positive influence on the athletes that play under his guidance. Coach Motes will continue to teach at the high school level and Dr. Blackmar and I are very proud to have him take on this new role.”