By MARINA WATERS
Since becoming David Crockett High School’s new head baseball coach, Nick Lingerfelt hasn’t spent much time away from his new home away from home off of Old State Rte. 34 in Jonesborough.
“I’ve actually been here everyday since I got the job — doing inventory, assessing the facilities, meeting with the former staff and trying to complete our schedule and trying to complete the preseason workout routine. I’ve been busy. My wife told me just the other night, ‘I know this is your dream, but don’t forget to come home every now and then too.’”
Lingerfelt will be leading the Pioneer program after serving as an assistant baseball coach at Dobyns-Bennett High School for the past seven years. He was also an assistant coach at his alma mater, Unicoi High School, for the first eight years of his coaching career. Now for the new head coach, it’s those experiences that have given him the tools he needs for his new role.
“Everybody knows who Dobyns-Bennett is. They’re a first class program. Their school system is a first class school system,” Lingerfelt said. “That’s the winningest program in the country. To be able to work with Coach (Ryan) Wagner and to learn from him was a great opportunity for me.”
“I was fortunate enough to work with Coach (Charlie) Baxter who has over 1,000 wins and has several state championship rings. To be able to see the things that the man for excellence on and off the field, the commitment to the little things, just the passion he has for the game and the passion he has for people—it was just a privilege and an honor to even be mentioned and associated with his program.”
Lingerfelt has also as been finalizing his preseason schedule and picking the brain of Scott Hagy, the Pioneer baseball coach who recently stepped down from his role as head coach. Hagy served as only the second head baseball coach in Crockett history.
“He’s got answers that I need,” Lingerfelt said. “I’m working with him to make the transition smoother. He’s a great man and I think highly of him. I’ve known him ever since I got into the coaching world. I told him the other day, I said, ‘Coach, you’ve done this. You remember what it was like years ago when you took over? Now I’m you. And I’m going to need your help.’ And I hope we can develop a good relationship and get things accomplished.”
The Crockett baseball program has seen everything from state-sectional appearances to regular season upets in years past, but Lingerfelt cites his past experiences — as a coach and player— as another tool in his baseball tool belt to take on whatever the future might hold.
“I’m originally from Unicoi. I was on the ’95 state championship team, but I was also the losing pitcher in the 1997 state championship game,” he said. “So I’ve been on the mountain top and the valley And I’ve many experiences in life that are very similar to being on the mountain top and being in the valley. Hopefully those experiences have prepared me for what I’m about to take on.”
Taking on challenges is what Lingerfelt constantly strives to overcome; two years ago, the teacher and coach was named teacher of the year in the Kingsport City School District. Lingerfelt, who teaches special education math, is now ready to bring his talents and his motivation to keep getting better at every task he takes on in his life to Washington County.
“(winning teacher of the year) is just like anything you do. If you’re just going to settle for average, then there’s really no need to do it. Everything that I take on in life, I try to be the best that I can be,”Lingerfelt said. “In baseball it’s state championships and in the classroom it’s teacher of the year recognition. At home it’s being the best husband and father. It’s just the challenge that I’ve placed on myself.”
Now the Unicoi native is ready to set his goals and get to work. Lingerfelt said his next step is to name the rest of the Pioneer baseball coaching staff. Though he’s yet to sit down with his team, he’s already striving to make it to one game in particular on his newly finished schedule.
“The state tournament is going to be held on May 2, 2018. I just added that to the calendar because that’s our goal. That’s going to be our goal every year, to get to the state tournament and we’re going to keep working towards that goal.”
Not only does the coach want to get his team focused on this goal, but he also wants to get the community behind the program.
“We’ve got to get into our fundraisers. We’ve got to get out into the community,” he said. “We’ve got to spread the excitement and let them know that we might not win a game, but by golly, we’re going to be one of the hardest working teams in this area. That’s a huge task because everybody says that, but coming from the programs that I came from, I feel like that I’ve got a lot to offer.
“I’m just a coach. I’m just the guy that’s got the key. For this machine to work, it’s going to take every part, everybody in this community buying into what we want to achieve.”
Lingerfelt is no stranger to setting goals, and he’s also no stranger to Crockett; before his role in Kingsport, he got his start as a teacher in Washington County.
“I actually worked at Crockett eight years ago. So I know the kids. I know the type of kids that I’m going to have here and to be honest, I’m excited about that because they’re eager. They’re hungry. They’re ready to work,” Lingerfelt said. “There’s talent. There’s talent in the classroom. There’s talent in the athletic field.
“You’ve got Gerald Sensabaugh, the football coach, and everybody knows that name. You’ve got Coach Good, the basketball coach, and everybody knows that name. I’ve got to make a name for myself now because I’ve kind of flown under the radar for a couple years. But I’m eager to be a part of it.”
Lingerfelt said he’s ready to work and be the best head coach he can be. He also said he feels as if he’s exactly where he was meant to be—even if it took some patience.
“It has been a dream but I’ve also been very patient in pursuing that dream, wanting to make sure it was God’s will for my life,” he said. “A lot of people rush in and take any job just to get that title of being a head coach. I tried to learn more in my 15 years of being an assistant to where that I was truly ready when the opportunity became available.
“The fact that they’ve only had two coaches here, it’s not my vision to already be thinking about leaving. It’s my vision to come here and to do everything I can to make this program one of the top programs in the state. A lot of things that I can envision, it takes resources, it takes people and it takes everybody working together to achieve that. I’m going to enjoy the process a little bit and work hard.”