There will be a Bollinger leading the Yellow Jacket baseball team next year, but there will also be a changing of the guard for the now-perennial playoff program.
Head coach Charles Bollinger has stepped down after seven seasons and is moving to Austin and his son, Brent, who has served as an assistant coach for almost all of his tenure, was elevated to continue Denison’s recent run of success.
“It’s kind of been in the making. I’m getting married so that’s the reason,” Charles Bollinger said. “I’m doing it backwards — usually you leave your job when you have something lined up. I put out some feelers. Starting my next chapter.”
His next chapter will be the first opportunity for his son to lead a program.
“He knew I wanted to be a head coach someday. He’s helped me with the little things to be ready. We just didn’t know when it would be,” Brent Bollinger said. “We’re not the same coach at all. He’s coached me my whole life and I’ve been with him for five years now but my style is going to be a little different.”
Charles Bollinger helped rebuild the Yellow Jackets to the point where they have made the playoffs the past three seasons, which included the best spring since Denison made the state tournament back in 1992.
“Denison’s been great. I feel like I’m leaving it a better place than I found it and it will continue in the right direction. I can’t be more prouder of the kids these last three years to make them a team to be reckoned with,” Bollinger said. “Even the years we didn’t make the playoffs, we made them tight ballgames. I’m proud of that for the kids and the program.”
The 2018 campaign saw the team reach the Class 5A region quarterfinals, the deepest run by the program in 25 years. The Jackets won a playoff game for the first time since 2000 and went 21-15 — their most wins since 1998. Bollinger earned his 300th career win during the season as well.
A five-year postseason drought was ended in 2017 as the Jackets went 10-21 but seven of those were district victories, including a play-in contest against Denton Braswell, before a bi-district loss to Justin Northwest.
Denison’s current postseason streak is its longest since four consecutive trips in 1995-98.
“I think it’s great timing and I think Brent is ready to take over,” Bollinger said. “He’s very knowledgeable and the kids love him to death. When you have a program going in the right direction and you have that guy right there, it makes sense.”
The Jackets went 15-17 this past spring with a third-place finish in the District 10-5A standings before a bi-district loss against Frisco Lone Star.
“We’re going to go out there and expect to beat whoever it is. That’s not going to change,” Brent Bollinger said. “That’s one of the things you have to keep culture-wise.”
Denison went 6-21 in Bollinger’s first season but won double-digits in every season since — including 2015 when the Jackets went 10-13 and 7-7 in district, finishing a game back of a playoff spot for the second straight season.
Charles Bollinger came to Denison from Snyder, his alma mater, following the 2012 season with a 228-111 record, four district titles and playoff appearances all 10 years. After leading the team to the Class 4A 1983 state title as a pitcher and then playing for Baylor and Hardin-Simmons, he guided Snyder to the Class 4A crown in 2008 with Brent Bollinger as his ace pitcher and shortstop.
Brent Bollinger was not only a first-team all-state selection that senior season he was the 3A Player of the Year and was second-team all-state as a junior.
He spent one season at Midland College but then played football at Midwestern State for two seasons. He switched back to baseball, playing at Midland for a year before closing out his career at UT-Arlington in 2013, the last of two years there.
Brent Bollinger then became the lead assistant at Denison under his father and knows he will have to prove himself worthy of the promotion.
“I figure that comes with the territory,” he said. “I’ll put the most pressure on myself.”