LOCUST GROVE — When the baseball season ended, a number of things were set into motion for one local program, beginning with the head coach announcing he’d step down.
That coach at the time was Stephen Phillips of Locust Grove High School. The search for a coach to fill his vacated role took a few weeks, but the school named their new head coach and it’s someone who’s already familiar with the team and program.
Former assistant coach Chad Crawford is the new head coach ,but he’s still got to learn some new things as he moves into the new role.
“I will have to shift gears from being an assistant to being the head coach,” Crawford said. “I’m not looking to change much due to the success that we’ve had in the past. I look to bring attitude and effort every time we play and practice. I’ve been with this senior group since their eighth-grade year. They understand what is expected and it will be up to them to lead this group of boys as far as we will go.”
However, he’s still aware of what the program loses heading into 2020’s season. There is no Phillips at the helm anymore but Crawford does know that he’ll have big shoes to fill behind the leadership level Phillips embedded over the years.
“We will work hard on not only creating great baseball players but focusing on the student-athlete relationship,” Crawford said. “They will be expected to excel not only on the baseball field but in the classroom as well as the community. We truly believe in building lifelong relationships.”
The program from the outside will hopefully remain the same as well. There is nothing more that could be changed for a team like Locust Grove. The foundation is there and Crawford’s high expectations for the team will carry over into the new season.
This includes the goals and expectations he’ll have to balance throughout the season.
“Our goal, of course, is to win another region title and another state championship,” Crawford said. “Our expectations are to work hard on and off the field in order to make this happen. Our main priority is to help these boys develop into successful young men in our community. We are teaching and implementing skills and work ethic that can be used for a lifetime on and off the field.”
Add in the ultimate goal that Crawford has to establish the trust in his players as well as the community, it’s only natural to want to carry on what’s been started at Locust Grove. Phillips hasn’t left the school, either and should help with the transition period as Crawford will have support and advice from the former leader readily available.
The pressure is still there though from one coach to another. The pressure of the high expectations set before them is always there, mainly due to their past successes.
“We will have to put in the offseason work and get ourselves ready to play,” Crawford admitted. “But, with solid players, great assistant coaches and a very supportive administration. A lot of this pressure is alleviated.”
But all it amounts to at the end of the day is that Crawford wants to get started and put his mark on the program.
“I want to continue to give our community a program that they can be proud of,” Crawford said. “I’m ready to start our offseason prep work and be ready for day one of tryouts.”