By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When the name Jimmy Harris popped up at the Stillwater Public School board meeting last week, not many people new about the former Shiloh Christian baseball coach.
All that has changed over the course of the past week as Harris began his transition as new coach of the Stillwater High School baseball team.
From meeting parents and players on Monday to searching for a new family home, it’s been a whirlwind for the newly appointed coach. But it’s a whirlwind that he’s definitely enjoyed.
“It’s been very good,” Harris said Monday. “Everybody has been really friendly and very helpful. They’re trying to do whatever they can to make this a good transition for me, and so I’ve been really thankful so far.
“It’s been one day. We’re in the process of finding a house, and once we do that it’s going to make it a lot easier. We’re ready to get moved up here. We’re ready to get our kids up here so they can meet some guys and have some friends when they go to school. My wife is ready to get up here and meet some of the coaches wives. We’re all just ready to get up here so we can start living day to day.”
Harris may be scrambling to find a new home in Stillwater, but one thing he isn’t scrambling over is building a new coaching staff.
After meeting with parents, players and the assistants Monday, it seems most — if not all — of the members from last year’s staff will be back to help the team next season.
And for Harris, that’s a huge weight lifted off his shoulders.
“It’s very exciting to get to meet the players, the parents and the coaches that I’m going to be working with,” Harris said. “The staff that we had last year, we’re going to try to keep as many of them as we can — the ones that want to coach.
“That’s key — that’s big. Having all the guys that are coming back is going to be very key for me. Right now they’re coaching me on how we do the day-to-day operations because all this is new. They have been very, very supportive and very helpful. I’m going to lean on them and they know I’m going to lean on them. We’re going to work together as a team and we’re going to be successful because of that.”
But it isn’t just about having coaches that are familiar with the team. It’s also about the players and their ability to warm to a new coach.
When he arrived in Stillwater, Harris said he was a little skeptical about how well he would be received by seniors-to-be like Carson Teel and Jon Littell. But after Monday’s meeting he said he feels more comfortable with his core group of seniors.
“I didn’t get to speak to the guys as much as I wanted to, but I was really impressed by them,” Harris said. “I’m going to lean on those seniors. I believe we’re going to go as far as they will take us. Being a senior and being a leader of your team is very important, and I’m excited to see these young men do that.”
With so much remaining the same, Harris said his goal as he works with the team is to not change things up but to build on the foundation already laid by former coach Tony Holt and his staff.
“I talked to them about some things that I’m going to try to instill in these young men,” Harris said. “A lot of it has already been instilled in them. I’m just going to hopefully add to that.
“The biggest thing is to just get to know one another. Once they get to know me and understand me, I think that’s going to make things a lot easier. I think a really good fall will be the key to a good spring and to some of our success and what we’re going to try to do this next year.”
Harris knows that expectations will be high — especially with the crew he has returning. Yet, he doesn’t seemed fazed by the pressure as the team gets ready to head into the fall season.
“For me, there’s not pressure,” Harris said. “We’re going to go out and we’re going to work hard. We’re going to play at a high level and the rest will take care of itself. The boys have proven to be very successful in their careers so far and we’re just going to add to that.”