STILLWATER, Okla. — Editor's note: It was a wild 2013 in Oklahoma State, Stillwater and area sports. So wild and exciting that some of the biggest moments fell to the chopping room floor when voted on by the members of The Stillwater NewsPress. In the days leading up to the New Year, the NewsPress sports department will count down the top 10 stories of 2013.
Stillwater's baseball coach Tony Holt resigned unexpectedly last June. Jimmy Harris, from Arkansas, accepted the position and brings a lot of experience to the Pioneers.
Harris came from Shiloh Christian High School in Springdale, Ark., where he was for the last seven years. Harris led his team to four straight state championship games in Arkansas and won three straight titles from 2010-2012.
“We had kind of four criteria that we set up as we started searching for our next coach and we just felt like he was hammering every one of these areas,” Stillwater athletic director Tucker Barnard said. “We wanted a high-character individual with great leadership skills. ... We wanted a coach who was a proven winner. We felt like we were going to be able to find a guy who had previously been a head coach and had won at a high level, but we didn’t necessarily say it had to have (head) coaching experience.”
Barnard and Harris worked together at Shiloh Christian before coming to Stillwater.
“I worked for coach Barnard at Shiloh and we worked well together. One of the things he got to see ... me work and do what I do with the baseball program over there, so he knows what to expect and what I do,” Harris said.
Harris comes into a program that has had recent success. Two seasons ago the Pioneers made it to the state tournament and last year Stillwater hosted a regional tournament.
In Arkansas, Harris coached at the 5A level. Having the opportunity to be a part of a 6A program intrigued Harris.
“I am really excited about being part of 6A Oklahoma baseball. Some of the best baseball programs in the country are in 6A in Oklahoma and I’m pretty excited about getting to be a part of that, competing against that and hopefully beating those guys,” Harris said.
Harris is an Oklahoma native and graduated from Broken Bow High School before graduating from Southeastern Oklahoma State.
The Pioneers will have a slew of talented players for the upcoming season.
“The group they have is really talented. The coaches are really talented, too, and they all work hard,” Harris said. “Baseball is very important at Stillwater High School, and I understand that. So what I’m going to come do is just come in and add to that. It’s already in place, I’m just going to try to come and add some things to the program and hopefully we can win at a major level.”