By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett’s baseball program will be managed by its third head coach in as many seasons this year. And although it’s almost certainly not gonna lead to the type of success that the same scenario produced in football with first-year coach Hayden Chandley this past season, the Pioneers dugout has also imported some Daniel Boone flavor.
Crockett first-year coach Spencer Street, who has taken over for Nick Lingerfelt after a 9-22 season, spent the past four seasons assisting Daniel Boone coach Rob Hoover.
Street said Hoover is a sharp baseball mind, but taught him as much about the game of life.
“Coach Hoover really doesn’t talk a lot of baseball when we talk now,” Street said. “We talk two or three times every couple of weeks and we really don’t talk much baseball. We kind of ask how each other’s doing and all that.
“Rob’s just so much more than a baseball coach. He’s somebody that I try to mold my character by, and how he teaches and how he goes about discipline and the expectations that he has.”
Hoover is a passionate competitor, but keeps it all in perspective.
“Every coach in this conference is super competitive and nobody settles for anything less than trying to get that regional berth and advance and being at the top of the conference,” Street said. “But with Coach Hoover it’s so much more than the wins and losses. He’s got over 225 wins or something like that, and that would be the last thing he would talk about. He’ll talk about his experiences with the guys and the relationships that he’s built.
“And I don’t think other people will talk about the games that he’s won – the guys who played for him. It’s just how good of a guy he is and how you can depend on him. And I’m sure they’ll be right there this year.”
Hoover is high on Street. He looks forward to the uncommon managerial matchup for Musket ball.
“Spencer is an incredible young coach who balances great knowledge of the game with having great relationships with his players,” Hoover said. “He is no doubt going to be really successful. He played a huge role for us at Daniel Boone with his energy, passion, and his ability to teach the game. It will be a challenge to beat his team.”
Street’s experienced many styles and philosophies. He had the rare opportunity to play for the same coach, Bernie Young, in high school (class of 2005 at Science Hill) and college (Milligan). Young won a state championship at Science Hill in 1998.
“I love Coach Young,” said Street who played for Young as a sophomore at Science Hill during Young’s final season in 2003 and as a freshman at Milligan College during Young’s final season in 2006. “He gave me a shot as a young guy to be around it and see how things are done. Being able to watch him run a practice and how he handled things on the field was definitely a blessing for sure.”
Street said he also learned a lot playing in college for Nathan Meade and at Science Hill under Andy Wallen. Street’s coaching career began under current Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards before spending four years in middle school at Ridgeview and Sulphur Springs.
Street won’t be expected to win like Chandley was during his debut. But Crockett did improve as the season went along under Lingerfelt, who also enhanced practice facilities, offices and locker rooms.
“The coaches’ office and the varsity locker room were completely remodeled,” Street said, “and it’s a place these guys like to be and like to hang out. And that’s just a testament to Nick having a good eye for that and being able to get the job done. And these guys are proud of their facilities. He’s a quality guy and he did a lot for this program.”
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a high-energy athletic director like Josh Kite, a former Chuckey-Doak ace who pitched at East Tennessee State and for five years in the minors for Cleveland and Detroit affiliates.
“Josh is a baseball guy,” Street said. “He’ll tell you that. He’s willing to go to bat for us. He’s so proud of all the athletics here and how far they’ve come.”
So is Street, who got sidetracked bragging on the jobs done by Chandley, basketball coach John Good, girls basketball coach Tony Gordon and reigning conference and district champion softball coach Carla Weems.
“For me, being brought into that and able to see what expectations are and how things are carried out with all the other programs, you know, it really kind of lights a fire under me and my staff,” Street said. “You almost – you don’t want to let them down. They work so hard.”
Street works hard too, though it’s a labor of love.
“Baseball’s my first love,” he said. “I love this game. This is a great opportunity. It kind of came out of nowhere. It’s definitely a blessing, and I feel a calling to be here and be part of this community and to see how much they care about David Crockett High School. And it’s such a good group of kids.
“I stop and talk to my wife about it and I just kind of smile and laugh. I couldn’t have come into a better situation at any place. The Lord blessed me getting me here.”