A coach with a wealth of experience and knowledge in softball will lead the Trojan softball team at Carrollton High School following the recent announcement of coach Lisa Phillips’ retirement.
Heard County native Cali Barron is moving into the role next fall.
Barron attended Heard County High School where she played softball for the Braves and helped the team clinch a state championship title in 2014. After graduating, she headed south to continue her softball career at the next level playing for Florida State University. She had an impressive run while playing with the Seminoles.
“I started every game from freshman year to senior year as a shortstop and won four Atlantic Coast Conference championships and one national championship,” she said.
After receiving her undergraduate degree, Barron moved back home and worked as a trainer for aspiring softball players for a year before deciding to go back to school to get her Master’s degree.
For the last two years, Barron has worked as an assistant softball coach for Central High School.
“I feel so grateful to have this opportunity to be the head softball coach at CHS,” said Barron. “Softball has been a passion of mine since I was little and I am thankful I will get the opportunity to instill that same passion and love for the game into the players here at Carrollton.”
CHS Athletic Director Paul Fitz-Simons said he thinks Barron will be an asset to the softball program.
“Coach Barron is widely recognized in the game of softball and I believe her experience and success will translate into our program,” he said. “Coach Phillips was such a strong female influence and role model to our athletes for years and I think Coach Barron will do a great job stepping in and leading our girls both on and off the field.”
Barron’s husband Austin is a football coach at Villa Rica High School and they just welcomed their first child last month, a daughter named Wrigley.
“There has always been a standard of excellence at CHS and I am excited for the challenge to meet that standard every day,” said Barron. “The family atmosphere and community here is so special to be part of and I am looking forward to being a part of the Trojan family and building relationships in this community. I can’t wait to get to work. Go Trojans!”
A coach who has dedicated her career to Carrollton High School athletics and pouring into student-athletes has decided to retire as head softball coach.
Lisa Phillips has coached the varsity softball team at CHS for 16 years, but she began her coaching career more than three decades ago.
A native of Temple, Ga., Phillips moved to Carrollton when she attended the University of West Georgia where she played intercollegiate basketball and softball.
Her passion for softball began when she was 10 years old.
“I was a pitcher and catcher for my hometown’s baseball team because we didn’t have recreational softball,” she said. “I also played softball with my mom on her women’s league team. I was hooked and finally found a youth softball league in Paulding County to play for. In 1981, my freshman year at Temple High School, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) started slow pitch softball as a fall sport for high school girls.”
Phillips’ coaching career began at Villa Rica High School where she led the varsity basketball team and served as an assistant softball coach for four years before heading to Bremen, where was the head coach of both the girls basketball team and softball. In 1996 she captured the pinnacle moment in her career when the softball team completed a 30-0 undefeated season to bring home a state title.
Phillips took over the softball program at CHS in 2006 and remembers when she was approached about the job.
“I was watching my oldest son play for the Trojans one night when Rayvan Teague came to sit next to me. Coach Teague was the head football coach for CHS at that time. He asked if I would be interested in talking to him about being the softball coach and the rest is history.”
When Phillips began coaching at Carrollton, it was her mission to rebuild the softball program.
“My first year, we only won five regular season games, but got better each week. In the region tournament, we were able to win two games to punch our ticket into the state tournament as the four seed. We went 1-2 in the sectional tournament to finish with a record of 8-24, but the work and dedication of that team truly changed the trajectory of Trojan softball.”
In 2011, Carrollton softball won its first ever region championship. Since then, the team has won five more under Phillips’ leadership.
Although she didn’t graduate from CHS, Phillips married into a family of Trojans whose love for the school is deep. Phillips’ father-in-law graduated from CHS in 1949.
“We are a Trojan family,” she said. “I watched my nephew play football in the 1990s under Coach Ben Scott. It was loud and exciting! When my son started playing as a Trojan, I saw the excellence first hand. Every player was really good. He played against great competition, and really learned to compete. That is the same way I tried coaching our players the last 16 seasons. I pushed them to excel and compete. It takes tenacity, grit, guts, and heart to do it. That’s what being a Trojan is — it’s excellence.”
CHS Athletic Director Paul Fitz-Simons said he is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Phillips and happy for her next chapter.
“Coach Phillips is a person who makes everyone around her better,” he said. “She has touched many lives — mine included. I am excited for this next phase of life for her and for her to have the chance to spend more time with family.”
Phillips said she is not only looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Terry Jay, children, and granddaughter, but she is also excited to assist with the softball program at Carrollton Junior High School.
“I am not stepping away from the game completely,” she said. “Although I will no longer lead the varsity program, I am going to help our younger students learn and improve foundational softball skills. I also plan to spend more time with my family and to support my kids as they pursue and chase their dreams."
Looking back on her coaching career, Phillips said it has been much more than a job for her. She said she believes it was her calling.
“Being a teacher and coach has been my life. I have always coached hard and expected a lot from my players to show them the potential that they couldn’t see in themselves. The first 13 years I coached were more about winning on the field but in 2003, my heart was transformed through my faith and that changed the relationships with my players in a deeper, more personal way. The success on the field continued, but many hearts were transformed along the way. Those were by far the biggest wins of my career!”
TERRY JAY PHILLIPS | Assistant Coach
ELLIE TURNER | Assistant Coach