Throughout high school, Chris Pritchett was involved in sports. He was talented and could have received many offers to play College baseball, but in 10th grade, any opportunity he had to play at the next level was gone due to a car accident.
“It’s something that I am thankful for now because it got me to where I am today, but then, I felt as if I had lost everything,” said Pritchett.
Because of that injury and knowing that sports were not in his future, he started thinking of ways to be involved without actually playing the sport.
In 1991, Pritchett was young and wanted to make a difference in the lives of athletes. He knew that there were probably multiple ways to do that, so he decided to start a high school ministry known today as 12th Man.
This ministry included leading Bible studies on Friday afternoon before the big game. Pritchett and his team would prepare equipment, fix Gatorade and water and even stay late and wash jerseys that smell like they haven’t been washed in three weeks.
As life changed, his locations for 12th Man would change. He started in Carollton, Georgia. He then moved to Dalton, Georgia in 1994 and now in Hartwell, where he has served for almost 21 years.
“I’m not really sure what I would have done without him during my years at Hart County,” said former head football coach, William Devane. “His heart for the athletes and passion to serve is like no other.”
When Pritchett moved to Hart County, he realized that he could use this ministry in baseball as well. After all, this was his favorite sport. He made connections with coaches and began 12th Man on the baseball field in small ways.
“He’s a mentor for me personally and for each of the boys that step food on the baseball field,” said current Hart County head baseball coach, Josh Osborne.
“I never thought that it would get this far,” said Pritchett. “It was just something small that I thought of doing, and I’m glad that it has given me the opportunity to serve outside of the four walls of the church.”
As the ministry has grown, Pritchett has taught multiple individuals how to drag and line a baseball field, tape ankles for football games and fill up coolers of water and Gatorade, among other things.
Like any ministry, it has its ups and down, but he looks forward to many more years of 12th Man as he watches it grow and trains more people to do the job that he has done for so many years.
Since 1991, he has incorporated 12th Man in multiple school systems, including Hart, Franklin, Madison and Elbert Counties.
“I am thankful that this ministry has come this far, and I am excited about what is going to happen in the near future,” said Pritchett.