May 18—Ronnie Natola thinks building relationships with his players is one of the most important parts of coaching.
He'll already have a head start in that aspect of his new job as head baseball coach at Dalton High School.
The school named Natola, who coached most of the Catamounts' current players during his six seasons as head baseball coach at Dalton Middle, as its new head man.
"You have to know how to relate to your players, and I've known how to coach some of these guys for a few years now," Natola said.
Natola has been at Dalton Middle School since 2012, serving as head coach for the last six years and as the school's head football coach in 2018. Natola takes over for Rhett Parrott, who replaced Shane Ramsey in 2015 and stepped down at the end of the season. It is Natola's first high school head coaching job.
"When coach Ramsey left, I wanted the job, but I knew it wasn't really my time," Natola said. "Now I just feel like it's the right time. I feel like I've been interviewing for this job for my nine years here."
Natola is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He played collegiately at Lee University in another Cleveland (Tennessee) before finishing of his college career at North Greenville University in South Carolina. Natola taught at North Whitfield Middle School after graduating college in 2009 until moving over to Dalton.
Natola said he views the Dalton job as his long-term home for him, his wife, Damaris, and his two sons Preston and Beckham, who are 8 and 6 years old.
"It's not a stepping stone," Natola said. "I really want it to be something where I can coach my two kids at Dalton High. We want to build off of what coach Parrott did and be competitive not only in our region, but statewide."
Dalton's is one of several head baseball coaching jobs in Whitfield County to change hands this offseason. Coahulla Creek, Christian Heritage and Southeast Whitfield have all hired new head coaches since the 2021 season's end last month.
"I just want to thank (Dalton athletics director) Jeff McKinney and (Dalton High School principal) Stephanie Hungerpiller for the opportunity," Natola said.