Pardon the pun, but it appears Carroll County has knocked it out of the park with the hire of Kevin DeHaven as the school’s new varsity head baseball coach.
Just the fourth head baseball coach in the 47-year history of Carroll County High School, DeHaven has either played for or worked with all three of his predecessors. A 1993 CCHS graduate, DeHaven played four varsity seasons under legendary and hall of fame coach Bill Worrell, who guided the program its first 25 seasons. He played JV baseball for Greg Nelson, who followed Worrell from 1995-97. And he has been an assistant coach in some capacity for Joe Tompkins for the past 17 seasons, the retired coach DeHaven replaces.
And judging by the emotion DeHaven showed while talking about the hire, it’s safe to say nobody could have possibly wanted the job more.
“It’s my dream job to be honest. I’m just overwhelmed,” DeHaven said while audibly fighting back tears during a phone interview Wednesday. “Just to be the coach after Coach Worrell and Joe (Tompkins), and Coach Nelson …it’s an honor. Those are three of the most honest coaches you could work for or play for in my opinion.”
An all-state catcher for Coach Worrell, DeHaven was also an all-state receiver for Carroll’s football team. One of the best athletes to ever come through Carroll County, DeHaven wants to make sure his players take pride in wearing a Cavalier uniform and understand the rich tradition of the school’s baseball program.
“At the awards banquet, Steve Combs was wearing a t-shirt that said Cavalier Baseball Tradition and on the back it had all the district championships, tournaments championships and the Region IV championship (1994). I want to win, but along with that I want to teach,” DeHaven said. “A lot of the kids today don’t take pride. When we were here, we were dedicated, whether it was good, bad, or whatever, we stuck it out to the end. The tradition I want to bring back is of being proud to be a member of the team, wearing the uniform, being a representative of the school. I don’t know how to put it into words, but just knowing when you walk out onto that field, you are wearing the uniform with a long line of tradition – a lot of players that would probably fight you if you talked negative about it. I want to win, but I think that just comes from playing for Coach Worrell.”
Having just finished his 17th year of teaching, DeHaven’s coaching career began in the spring of 1999 when Coach Tompkins asked him to be a volunteer assistant and help the team find a catcher. Since that time, DeHaven worked seven years with Carroll’s JV baseball team before moving up as a varsity assistant for the past 10 years.
DeHaven certainly brings a wealth of knowledge to draw from as he takes over the baseball program. During his playing years, he actually played for three coaches who have been enshrined in the Carroll County High School Sports Hall of Fame. It started early with his 8th grade coach, Rick Nester, now head coach of the powerful softball program. As a varsity player, DeHaven suited up for two other members of the hall, Coach Worrell and his assistant Robin Whittington.
“My coaching style will probably be a lot like (Coach Worrell’s), just to teach the fundamentals and to do the small things the right way, be there for the guys. Joe has touched on it – it’s more than just teaching the X’s and O’s of the game. It’s also being there and showing the guys that you care. Coach Worrell was a great man,” DeHaven said. “And if you are going to play for us, you are going to have to bunt the ball. That was a prerequisite for Coach Worrell. Some games we couldn’t hit and we would bunt three or four guys in a row. So playing small ball and being aggressive on the base paths will be a big part of it. Not that we haven’t been doing that, but I would like to be a little more aggressive. Defensively we are going to keep doing the same things. And our pitchers, we want the kids to be more consistent throwing strikes and getting ahead of batters, which we have been preaching the past several years. I think some of the younger kids coming up are competitors and have bought into the concept. I really think the future is bright the next several years.”
DeHaven said Coach Whittington was just as much an influence on him as Coach Worrell, although the two did have different styles. As a catcher, Whittington took particular interest in DeHaven.
“We did blocking drills every day. And if you had a bad day blocking in the game, the next day you knew it was going to be awful,” he said.
DeHaven, 41, played college baseball for one season at Greensboro College and three years at Bluefield College. He and his wife Donna have two children, Camden, 8, and Clara, 5. CCHS Principal Chuck Thompson is excited about what DeHaven will bring to the Cavalier baseball program.
“There is no doubt that Coach DeHaven has a love for the program. He has been in it as a player and as an assistant coach and it is a natural progression for him to move up into the head coaching role,” Thompson said. “I think his knowledge of the game and energy will help us to be successful in the near future. His expectations and our expectations are in line with one another. We are excited to have him and I know he is excited to get going. I think we are ready to turn the corner and we really appreciate what Joe has done during his time as head coach.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN