DAWSONVILLE — North Forsyth girls basketball coach Eric Herrick had an itch he needed to scratch.
It wasn't that awkward place on your back you can't reach without using the sharp corner of a hallway wall. It was coaching boys basketball.
For the last 14 years, the North Hall grad has been coaching girls, now, he's officially a boys basketball coach.
Herrick was approved as Dawson County High School's next boys basketball coach Tuesday night at the monthly board of education meeting.
"I'm getting to a point in my career where I'm not young anymore," Herrick said. "I think if I get to the point where I retire and I don't coach boys, it's going to be a regret. I've been coaching girls for the past 14 years – it's been an itch I need to scratch. It had to be the perfect opportunity and I just feel like Dawson is that school. I wasn't willing to sacrifice a great girls job for an average to good boys job - it had to be a great boys job. I think Dawson is that opportunity."
DCHS Athletics Director Jason Gibson said Herrick is a great addition to the program.
"We felt like he brings a level of success and experience that we wanted at Dawson County," Gibson said. "Obviously, his record over the last seven years speaks for itself. Whether you're coaching girls or guys, it still comes down to relationships and mentoring young adults. I feel like he will be a fantastic addition to our community here at Dawson."
Herrick replaces Chad Pittman, who stepped down last month after leading the Tigers to the semifinals of the Class 3A state playoffs.
Gibson said the school sought the advice of a search committee to find its next head coach.
"Essentially, our committee was looking for the best possible candidate for Dawson County," Gibson said. "We had a number of qualified applicants that applied for the position. The last couple of weeks while going through the vetting process – resumes, references and interviews – we felt like Coach Herrick obviously stood out above the rest. We feel like we're fortunate to have him coming on board."
Herrick brings 15 years of head coaching experience with stops at Glascock County (boys), White County (girls), Chattahoochee (girls) and North Forsyth (girls).
He's spent the last eight seasons in Coal Mountain where he guided the Lady Raiders to seven playoff appearances, including two quarterfinals and two semifinals and played for seven region titles – won three.
Last season, North Forsyth finished 26-5 and won their second straight Region 6-7A championship. The Lady Raiders also made back-to-back Class 7A semifinal appearances in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
But, despite all the success in girls basketball, Herrick had the desire to jump back into coaching boys and felt like Dawson County was the right fit.
"The community support," Herrick said. "Dawson County is a basketball school. I'm from the Gainesville-area, grew up there and Dawson has always been a basketball school. You go to the gym on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, that's the place to be. Dawson has tremendous community support and it still has a small-town feel. You want to play in front of a packed crowd where everybody is enthusiastic and that's what I saw in Dawson."
He’s taking over a program with plenty of returning and rising talent, including starters Jasper Gibson, Eli Burruss and Campbell Reed.
"I watched them play a couple of times last year," Herrick said. "I loved watching them play last year – some very talented kids."
Herrick's style of coaching is built on relentless, stingy defense. His offense will feature the dribble-drive attack with a heavy dose of outside shooting, but his philosophy at Dawson will be developed around the talent he has in the program.
"I'm not a coach that's going to say we're going to play a certain way without knowing exactly what we have," he said. "We're going mold our philosophy around the talent and the kids that our there. At the end of the day, I'm not a real structured coach. I want kids to make plays, so we're going to let them be creative and create some stuff for us and make plays."
Herrick's biggest point of emphasis in his eight seasons at North Forsyth was an in-your-face defensive attack. It'll be the same in Dawsonville.
"If you don't guard, you ain't going to play — it's pretty simple," he said. That'll be from day one. If you don't guard or rebound, you don't play. We want kids to get out there and guard the heck out of people. We're going to play our toughest kids. We're going to be extremely physical. Hopefully, it's a fun style of basketball to watch, but I'm going to play the kids that guard, the kids that rebound and the kids that are tough."
Overall, Herrick leaves North Forsyth with a 191-47-career record, seven playoff appearances and three region titles.