Wibbeler prioritizes family over promising Raiders

By BRENDAN PERKINS
Herald Sports Editor

Brad Wibbeler has a vested interest in two groups of people — his two young children and the promising wave of youngsters who are rising through the Southridge baseball program.

Wibbeler

The smaller group, in this case, carried far more weight.

The Southridge baseball coach is stepping away after four seasons, as Wibbeler’s resignation was accepted at Thursday’s Southwest Dubois School Board meeting. Part of Wibbeler wanted to remain in the dugout to track the progression of a talented crop of juniors-to-be who helped the Raiders claim their first conference title in 27 years this spring. But Wibbeler couldn’t ignore the overlap with family, as he and wife Angie have 4-year-old son Aidan plus the family’s newest addition, daughter Harper, who’s 41⁄2 months.

“It’s a great group of kids that are in there right now. The ones that are in there right now make you want to stick around and see if it’ll work out,” said Wibbeler, who served as an assistant for eight seasons before his head coaching tenure. “But I kind of expected it to be a little bit of a rough season as far as having a newborn and dealing with everything that entails. ... When you leave for an away game, you leave at 3:30, 3:45 and sometimes don’t get home until 10, 10:30. I don’t look forward to that, and I didn’t like the idea of that, being away from (my kids).

“Even getting ready (for the season) in January and until June, July, that grind takes away from where my focus needs to be, and that’s with family.”

Wibbeler, a 1996 SHS graduate, returned to his alma mater after a standout career as a catcher at Oakland City University; he was inducted into the Mighty Oaks’ Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.

He supervised a breakthrough in his final season as the Raiders “finally got over a small hump.” In sharing the Pocket Athletic Conference crown with Gibson Southern, Southridge nabbed its second league title in program history and first since 1986.

“Just being part of the program as a player and even coming around during college, and then getting the job there, I was just proud to be part of that program and wanted to see it grow,” Wibbeler said. “Just being there and being around the kids was what I wanted to do, and it was fun to do it.”

His attention will now be funneled elsewhere; Wibbeler plans to stay on as a technology education teacher at the high school, and it won’t be long until Aidan begins his foray into Little League.

Three of Wibbeler’s four teams scripted winning records, and he accrued a career mark of 57-53. Whoever follows him, Wibbeler expects to see numbers slanted higher in the win column when he evaluates the talent that’s both existing and upcoming in the program.

“When you think about what could be, it’s a little bit tough,” Wibbeler said. “But then again, that’s something a new coach will be able to do. I look forward to watching to see what they can do. I don’t have any regrets as far as the decision I made from that standpoint. I do look forward to the next two, three years, and even after that, there’s a lot of good kids coming up from the middle school level and even in the Little League. I want nothing but success for the Southridge baseball program and I’d like to see it be successful, and whoever takes over just to get them to that next level.”

Contact Brendan Perkins at bperkins@dcherald.com.




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