The Essex school board officially hired Seth Ward as the school’s new varsity baseball and boys basketball coach during its regular meeting, Wednesday, May 20.
Ward is a 2008 Essex graduate and life-long Essex resident. He comes in with a little coaching experience, having led the junior high baseball program at Essex, but said it’s been a few years.
“I wanted to get back into sports,” said Ward. “I love to play, coach and go to games. I was approached by a parent saying the school still needed a coach. They mentioned my name to the school board and athletic directors. They contacted me and asked if I wanted the job. I signed up for some coaching classes and it took off from there.”
Ward starts his new job nearly immediately as the Iowa High School Athletic Association announced only a few hours ahead of the school board approving his hiring that there will be a baseball season this summer.
“It’s chaotic right now,” Ward said. “Our athletic directors will have to figure out what the extra rules and regulations are that we’ll have to follow. Right now I’m just doing my job and waiting to see what else I’ll have to do regarding social distancing and things like that.”
Baseball practice will begin Monday, June 1 with the first competitions allowed to begin two weeks later.
Ward expects to return six athletes from last season’s Essex/South Page team that won two games, including one in the postseason. Ward takes over for Jay Soderberg, who resigned after last season to take a teaching position in the Shenandoah district. Ward said Soderberg has been quite helpful in making sure he’s ready for the first day.
“(Soderberg) has helped me out with where everything is,” said Ward, “and where everyone played last year. He’s been a lot of help.”
Ward will have Philip Franks as his leading returning hitter and Tucker Hadden as his leading returning pitcher.
Ward said the baseball season will help him get familiar with the kids ahead of the boys basketball season.
Ward will inherit a basketball team that didn’t win a game last season. Hadden and Franks are expected to be his top returners there as well.