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Since 1982, T.J. West has coached baseball, but all that will change this season when the veteran Williamstown coach embarks on a new challenge.
The new challenge will send West to a smaller diamond as he was recently introduced as the new softball coach. West replaces Mark Wilhoit who resigned at the conclusion of this season.
"It will be difficult knowing I won't be with the same group of kids I had been with. This past graduating class of baseball players, I coached since middle school. I thought about taking a year off, but it is time for a new challenge. I have a chance and I hope I succeed. I wish the season started tomorrow," said West, who served as an assistant coach to the WHS baseball team this spring.
The upcoming season will be the first that West, who played high school baseball at Grant County, has coached girls, but he acknowledges that will not be a problem.
"Coaching is coaching. My brother-in-law has always coached females. It will be different, but I have a good staff and great players," West said.
His staff includes Al Rich and Bryan Goodrich, both of whom served as assistants to Wilhoit. West also added Vivian Plunkett to help.
"I thought it was important to have a female on the coaching staff," West said.
While the season is months away, West said he has already talked with his new team.
"They are excited. They are good athletes, good students and good girls. I am enthusiastic about it. I have had several girls ask if they could come out and my attitude is the more, the merrier," West said.
West has also spent some time talking with college coaches who have shown an interest in several of his senior players.
"There are some colleges who have expressed interest in our players. I will try to help them get to the next level," West said.
West said the fact that he is already familiar with his team has helped in the transition period.
"I think it is big in a small school to already know the players you are going to coach. I get to interact with the players and see them everyday. It makes a difference when you can build a rapport with them," West said.
In addition to already meeting with his new team, West has begun scheduling games. The scheduling has the Lady Demons opening with a familiar foe as Williamstown travels to 32nd District and county opponent Grant County to begin the season. The Lady Braves will be coached by Ott Reed this season after he took last year off.
"Ott Reed is a legend, a great coach and a mentor to those kids. It is an honor to play them and play against him," West said.
When it comes to goals, West is putting those strictly in the hands of his players.
"I am going to let the girls tell me what they want. I would love to win the All "A" Classic. We were runners-up last year, and that is something I would like to see happen. I'd like for our senior girls to have something to remember their season with," said West, adding this is the first time in a while that he has had to schedule games.
With that said, West does have one personal goal.
"Coach Wilhoit did a great job and built this program up. I would like to build on the job he did. I am looking forward to the season. I want to thank our athletic director and principal for the opportunity and I want to make Williamstown proud," West said.