Though he’s stepping up to the job of Briarwood Academy principal, John Osborne still has a passion for teaching.
A younger Osborne had a passion for coaching. An even younger Osborne had a passion for sports.
Today’s Osborne can enjoy all three.
“Coaching is teaching, and teaching is coaching,” he said.
Osborne, as the assistant to varsity baseball coach Kevin Cowart, works with a team of just 10 players, and younger players dominate the team. “Those 10 kids are giving their best effort,” Osborne said. “That’s what you ask from them. And that’s what you give them as coaches.”
Osborne finds another parallel in the track program. “Track is one of those things where there are eight lines, and somebody’s gonna be eighth,” he said. “That’s OK in my book if they work hard and they give everything they have.”
Osborne took a roundabout way from North Carolina to Thomson. He graduated from West Rowan High School in Mount Ulla, N.C. “Sports was my passion,” he said. “Whatever season was in, that’s what I wanted to do next.” He played baseball, basketball and football. “And I wrestled a little,” he said.
While he was at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., his parents moved to Thomson, where his father worked at Shaw Industries. That gave Osborne a path to the University of Georgia, where he made the Bulldogs football team. “I was on the roster,” he said of his playing days. Osborne knew it was time to apply his love for sports in a new way. “It was time to turn my focus to education,” he said.
He found a slot at Briarwood Academy the year he graduated. Both Osborne and the current principal, Clayton Parish, joined Briarwood in the fall of 1996. And he enjoyed those years.
There were only three coaches on staff in those years, he said. “We had to cut all the grass, fix a lawn mover, fix a bathroom, do all that,” he said.
In 2003, he left for Thomas Jefferson Academy in Louisville. “I was young and I felt like I needed a change so I went to Thomas Jefferson,” he said. “And after I was there five years, I felt like I needed to get back home.”
The commute took more time away from his family. Osborne thought that price was too high.
He still thanks Headmaster John Hammond and Principal Parish for welcoming him back to Briarwood. On July 1, Osborne will become principal, and Clayton Parish will move across the hallway to the headmaster’s office. Hammond will retire.
Osborne plans to stay busy with sports, too. He is the athletic director, the head football coach, the varsity track coach, and the assistant baseball coach. He’s the basketball timekeeper. Because Osborne can’t be on two fields at once, he welcomes the help from Parish on the track team. “Coach Parish and I are working in tandem,” he said.
Osborne applies his coaching philosophy in the classroom, where he teaches physical education, health and elementary Spanish.
His wife, Laura, teaches at Thomson-McDuffie Middle School. Their son, Charles, 13, attends TMMS. Elizabeth Osborne, 7, attends Thomson Elementary School.
While he’s teaching, he’s also coaching.
“When I teach, I not only teach a subject matter. I also try to influence kids to give me their best,” he said.
“That’s what life’s all about. There are gonna be times when things don’t go right on the job front or whatever. You can’t walk out. You have to hang in there.”