Jaguar Head Softball Coach John Garris, affectionately known to most as "Coach G" or simply "G" enters his sixth season overall at Southern University.
This is Garris’s fifth year at the helm of Jaguar Softball, after being named interim coach in 2014. Garris came to Southern in 2013 as assistant coach overseeing team defense.
Garris’s 2017 SU squad went the farthest a Southern team has gone in 14 years at the SWAC Tournament, finishing third.
Each of his teams on the bluff have made the SWAC tournament. Garris was named the SWAC’s 2015 Coach of the Year after leading the Jags to the school’s first winning season in eight years.
That team ranked eighth in the nation in double plays and led the SWAC in virtually every defensive category.
One task facing Garris in the upcoming season is replacing the offensive fire power of Kiera Suttles, a two time SWAC All Conference catcher, who led the nation in home runs per game, RBIs per game and slugging percentage as a sophmore.
Suttles graduated in May 2018 after playing all four years for Garris.
The offense will also miss four year starter Sidney Andrews who started and led off practically every game in her career. She was SWAC All Conference center fielder in 2017.
Garris is no stranger to coaching. The Leroy, Alabama native grew up in a family of educators and coaches. He began coaching the summer of his first year in college, serving as a pitching coach for the local youth league team in the early 1980s, that was an undefeated league champion.
During a 24 year coaching career Garris has coached on all levels including high school, junior college, Division 2 and Division 1. He has also coached and instructed players in international competition in Europe and in Central and South America.
Garris is currently overseeing a major facility upgrade including installation of suspension netting, backstop wall, bullpen areas, along with batting cage renovations.
In 2019 fans will enjoy enhancement seating and improved sight lines.
Garris as coach also stresses excellence in the class room.
Last year’s team posted a 1000 APR score and 13 player earned a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Andrews played her senior year of eligibility at SU, while taking 12 graduate hours after graduating in December of her senior campaign.
Prior to Southern University Garris served on the staff of Mark Montgomery at Lousiana Tech for one year assisting in the recruiting of players that were a cornerstone of the 2017 squad that won a conference championship.
At Jackson Academy Garris e led the school to its first winning season in eight years and the squad was area champions and went to the state tournament. One of his players earned a schlorship to Shelton State Community College. He also oversaw a major field renovation at Jackson Academy.
At Samford University Garris coached under Beannie Ketham for three years, serving as defensive coordinator. Under his leadership Garris improved the team’s defense leading the Southern Conference (SoCo) in several defensive categories.
At Shelton State Junior College Garris led the Buccaneers to the state tournament in each of the two years he served as head coach and coached Allison Scoggin (Daugherty) who was named school Female Athletic of the year in 2006.
At Rutgers University Garris was assistant coach under Coach Pat Willis. Garris was in charge of hitting and recruiting. Garris recruited Carissa Conroy-Zemeckis, who is currently director of Athletic Develoment-Varisity R and Major Gifts. He recruited and coached Brittany Loisel who was a member of the NCAA Student Athletic Advisory Committee. Loisel was responsible for passing legislation that allowed pregnant players not to lose their scholarships.
He improved team hitting significantly and two players Helen Smith and NIkkI Childress set school hitting records.
In 2004 the Scarletts Knights broke perinnal Northeast power Hofstra’s a ten year home win streak by defeating the Pride 2-1 aided by a leadoff home run by catcher Nikki Childress, who owns several school hitting records. Garris also coached third baseman Helen Smith who was in the top ten in the Big East in on base percentage in 2004 and led the team in hits and double. She was second team All Big East in 2005 and holds several school hitting records.
Garris coached two years at Henderson State University before moving to Rutgers in 2004.
Garris was head coach at Sam Houston State University from 1999 to 2001. He oversaw major facility improvements there and his teams made the Southland Conference tournament each year.
Garris began his collegiate coaching career at Delta State University in 1994.
He turned a program that had gone 8-32 the previous year into a force in the Gulf South Conference in just 2 years. After a 24 win campaign his second DSU squad finished with 32 wins.In his third season, the Lady Statesman captured the school’s first 40 win season and were regionally ranked for the first time. This was the cornerstone for the program’s success that it still sees today, under Coach Casey Charles, who Garris recruited to DSU.
Garris coached three of the four softball program”s members of the School’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Mandi Foster (Wickson) Garris' first recruit, has her green and white #12 jersey retired. She is the only softball player to do so. During her career she was one of the most dominate pitchers in Gulf South Conference history and she is in the top ten all time strike outs per innings pitched in the NCAA. Catcher Jeannie Crnkovic and Catcher/Utility player Laura Simpson were also named to the school’s Hall of Fame
Some records set by his players at DSU remain unbroken today.
Garis today remains in the top ten for winning percentage in that storied conference. He was the fastest coach to 150 wins in school history and had the winningest four year span in DSU school history. He was conference coach of the year in 1997. While at Delta State his players ranked in the top ten nationally in grade point average. First Baseman/ .third baseman Elizabeth Pelezo twice was an Academic All American.
All of those players graduated.
Garris received his undergraduate and two masters degrees from the University of Alabama. He earned an educational specialist degree from Delta State.
Other coaching includes: Coaching USA-Athletes International Teams in Peru and Curacao on two different occasions on friendship tours. His USA Blue team finished 3rd in the 2014 Tuscan Evolution Series.
He has taught clinics in Louisiana, California, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Nevada, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington. Internationally, he has been the special guest to the Peruvian Softball Federation.
He has spoken at high school state coaches association's in Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and New Jersey.