Longtime assistant taking reins of Raider baseballSeptember 25, 2017
By COLIN LIKAS
Gene Mattingly has served as an assistant to three Southridge baseball coaches over the 12 or 13 years, by his own estimation. Now, he’s getting a chance to lead the Raider program.
Mattingly was hired at Thursday’s Southwest Dubois School Board meeting. He takes over for Dave Schank, who led Southridge to a 55-36 record over the previous four seasons.
“It’s kind of my passion and what I love to do,” Mattingly said of being around baseball. “From a program standpoint, I’m ready to try and lead it.”
Mattingly has held involvement with the Raider baseball feeder system and had a son, Payton, play for Southridge before graduating in 2016. Gene Mattingly’s strong bond with Southridge was a major draw during the interview process, according to athletic director Brett Bardwell.
“We were looking for somebody that had a passion for Southridge athletics and really wanted to build our baseball program from the ground up,” Bardwell said. “I think Gene’s really excited, and I think he’s got a lot of energy and enthusiasm to really take ownership and build a program.”
Schank told The Herald in June that he felt the Raiders would be “a pretty solid team” in 2018, something Bardwell agreed with. Though Southridge went just 9-13 last season, it posted 38 victories and grabbed its first sectional title in 32 years during the two campaigns prior.
How the Raiders’ immediate future pans out will depend, at least partially, on how it adjusts to a new coach. Mattingly feels the transition will be a smooth one.
“I think (the players) will respond positively,” Mattingly said. “I’ve interacted with all the returning players, and I’ve had a lot of interaction with the incoming players through our eighth-grade program. Hopefully they’re excited about the hire.”
Bardwell said he chose Mattingly over four other “really quality” candidates. Mattingly’s reputation both on and off the diamond was a key factor in that decision.
“What I think we look for in a head coach is, No. 1, a good person,” Bardwell said. “When I sit down and talk with someone, I want it to be somebody I feel I can work with, someone that’s professional and is a good person, who is going to be a good role model for your kids.”
Mattingly said his first staff will consist almost entirely of individuals who’ve been through the Southridge program, though he declined to give names until the group was approved. Once that is set in stone, he plans to use both his own experiences and what he’s seen under three previous Raider coaches to put his own stamp on the program.
“I’ve seen the good and the bad, what works and what doesn’t work,” he said. “Hopefully I’ve gleaned enough information out of that and can meld it all together to make (the program) successful.”
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