For 14 years, Kim Cousar competed against some of the best public-school baseball talent in the state.
Next year, the new head baseball coach at Charlotte Latin will compete against the area's best private-school teams.
Cousar, who has coached at Butler since the school opened in 1997, replaces Sammy Serrano, who is moving back to his hometown in northern Virginia. Serrano was recently named as the head baseball coach at Patriot High School (Nokesville, Va.), which opens this year.
"I was very excited," said Cousar, 56, about getting the job. "When I interviewed here, I just felt this sense of community. (There were) a lot of smiles on faces, people genuinely nice to each other, and I said, 'Gosh, I get a chance to be a part of that.'"
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About midway through the season, Serrano notified Charlotte Latin Athletic Director Jimmy Broadway and the team that he would be leaving at the end of the year. Broadway had narrowed the applicants to four when Cousar expressed interest in the job.
Cousar heard about the opening when he was scouting Southwestern 4A conference opponents at the Jack Sink Invitational baseball tournament at Myers Park in April. Cousar said he was interested immediately.
"It's just the chance to challenge myself with something new. I think change is good, and what better place to do it?" said Cousar. "It was like getting hit over the head. It was a no-brainer."
After interviewing and meeting with Latin Headmaster Arch McIntosh, Cousar was offered the job June 1. He accepted the immediately.
"His character is very strong, and he's in it for the right reasons," said Broadway. "We felt like he had a genuine interest in the kids and also felt like he would be a good person to work with the people who have been here all these years."
Cousar's first head baseball coaching job was at Anson Senior High in 1978. He also was an assistant coach for the football team at Anson Senior and at Butler.
Cousar set up a meeting with Latin football coach Larry McNulty, and said he would like to continue coaching football. He also will be a middle school physical education teacher at Latin.
Cousar is the fourth Butler coach to leave the school in the last year. Girls' basketball coach Stephanie Butler was let go by the school last summer after an investigation determined she had violated a local recruiting policy. Boys' basketball coach Kurt Wessler retired after 14 seasons, and football coach Mike Newsome took the head coaching job at A.L. Brown.
Cousar said those events did not affect his decision to take the job at Latin.
"Butler's a good place, it really is," he said. "But I heard about the Charlotte Latin job, and to me it was just, you have to pursue this."
Cousar's teams have won more than 400 games and nine conference championships and have made the state playoffs 20 times. In 26 years of coaching, he's had 22 winning seasons.
Butler finished 16-10 last year and tied for third in the SW4A conference. Latin finished 9-17.
After years of coaching against strong teams like Providence and Ardrey Kell, Cousar still will face tough conference opponents like Charlotte Christian, a perennial contender for the state championship, and Charlotte Country Day, which made it to last year's state championship series.
At Latin, Cousar will have to deal with a middle school team in addition to varsity and junior varsity. Private schools also play three-game series against conference opponents instead of seeing them two separate times in the seasons, which Cousar said he likes.
"To me, you prepare that week and you're kind of done with them and move on," he said. "It kind of tells you a little bit about the depth of the team, the pitching staff and things like that."
Cousar will spend the summer preparing for the spring baseball season and likely helping out the football team, but he's looking forward to starting school in fall.
"It's like a village," Cousar said of Charlotte Latin. "It's just real exciting to think about being here."