From the Bench: Need an Interim Baseball Coach for a Season or a Week? BHS Alum is Your Go-To Man

By Jeff Toquinto on May 12, 2024 from Sports Blog via

Wanted: Interim assistant high school baseball coach in Harrison County. Must know the sport, preferably have played at the high school level and been pretty successful at it.
How many times have you seen that over the years? Most would say they have not seen anything like that or have even been aware of anything like that.
I know it has happened twice, perhaps more that I am not aware of, in the last 10 or 11 years. In both situations, a Bridgeport High School graduate has answered the ad, or in this case the need, to fill the spot.
Allow me to introduce you to Robert C. Byrd High School Baseball Assistant Coach Brett Hathaway. Remember him?
You should. Of course, most remember him as one of the roughest and most successful running backs in BHS football history. Leading the then Class AAA Indians to the brink of a state title appearance in the state semifinals and becoming an all-stater during his career.
Perhaps not as many remember his baseball career. And not because he was not good at it. Quite the opposite.
Hathaway played for veteran Coach Robert Shields his freshman, sophomore, and senior seasons. After playing junior varsity ball in the outfield as a freshman, Hathaway moved up to third base his sophomore year before a football shoulder injury forced him to scratch playing as a junior.
Although his injured shoulder was still an issue his senior year, he battled through it to play football and returned to play for Shields and his always solid baseball teams. During his final year, when the team fell in the state tournament, Hathaway primarily served as the team’s designated hitter due to the injury but played first base a handful of games.
“A lot of people don’t know it, but baseball is my favorite sport,” said Hathaway, who is also currently the football coach at South Harrison High School. “I guess I was just a little better at football.”
A lot of people also may not know that Hathaway served as an interim coach before. He said about eight years ago, not long after he graduated in 2013, coached an interim slate with Shields at his alma mater.
“This isn’t my first rodeo stepping in like this. I filled in for (the late long-time BHS assistant) Chris Colombo when he had surgery on his knee,” said Hathaway. I enjoyed that, and I’ve enjoyed the limited time I’ve had coaching at Byrd.”
His “limited time” statement is not hyperbole. He started two Tuesdays ago. In other words, he was able to coach just a three games in the regular season an tow games in the postseason before the year ended.
For those wondering how Hathaway was able to land a position that late, here is the answer. The head coach, he said, left the program and Hathaway said that led to Assistant Baseball Coach Basil Lucas being elevated to interim head coach for the rest of the season.
It also left a spot open where Lucas once sat. With little time, there was actually no advertising for it. The school needed the position filled and filled quickly and Hathaway was an easy target. The short-time RCB assistant baseball coach is a teacher at One Eagle Way.
“I’m a teacher there and Basil and I have morning duty together and I found out last week,” said Hathaway, who had coached in three games prior to talking for this blog on Monday afternoon, May 6. “Along with that, I was involved with half a practice and another half a practice before sectional play began).”
For those wondering why half a practice, it rests with Hathaway coaching South Harrison. He goes immediately after school to West Milford where he gets in weight training work with his student-athletes there to prep for football.
“That was the one thing they knew they would have to work around because I have full-time football duties after school,” said Hathaway. “With the situation as it was, everyone was okay with it.”
Hathaway was especially okay with it. He still loves baseball, and had an advantage over anyone outside who may have wanted to step in.
“First, knowing the situation the team and the kids were in made it an easy call. I want those kids to finish off things as positively as possible,” said Hathaway, who said he teaches, health, West Virginia Travel, physical education, oversees ISS, and other duties at RCB. “Plus, I know a handful of the kids from the classroom. There was no hesitation to do this when Basil asked.”
With things as they are now, there will likely be an official advertisement for an assistant for the next season, as well as a posting for head coach. Would Hathaway be interested?
“It’s probably going to stop at this little run. I’m always happy to volunteer, or help out, if it can make things better, but taking on something of that nature next year is a full-time job,” he said. “It wouldn’t be right to throw my hat into the ring knowing my position at South Harrison would make it essentially a part-time job for me. Still, I have to admit I’ve enjoyed being back on the baseball field.”
I think most that have been around him for the first time would admit they enjoyed him being around as well. After all, he is doing what he did when he played football and baseball at BHS.
He is going hard and doing what needs to be done to help a team and, in particular, the student-athlete. A rather good foundation to a legacy for a still really young coach with a lot of years ahead.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Brett Hathaway prior to a sectional contest this past week (photo courtesy of Rick Rock). The remaining photos, most of which are from football and one from baseball, show Hathaway during his playing days at BHS. They are all Ben Queen Photography file photos.

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