Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 19, 2014

Fairview baseball coach familiar

Zack Klemme
The Independent

WESTWOOD — Matt Thompson is Westwood-born-and-raised, so it makes total sense to both Thompson and Fairview that he is the Eagles’ new baseball coach.

Thompson, who played at Fairview and the University of Charleston, said he was interested in the job “really as soon as it came open.”

“You don’t really know how often those kind of jobs are gonna come open, and it was perfect for me,” Thompson said Saturday. “It opened up right when I got out of college at my old school and where I work, so it really worked out for me.”

The feeling was mutual.

“When I had him in school, his honesty was impeccable (and) his work ethic was immaculate,” Fairview athletic director Jeff Fletcher said. “He is a hometown boy ... went to school his entire life here, graduated from here. When he did go to school here, he participated in baseball, he got a scholarship and went off to the University of Charleston to play baseball, so for us it was just a perfect fit.”

Thompson’s hiring is expected to become official “after the site-based council meets” this week, Fletcher said.

Thompson, 23, teaches special education at Fairview Elementary and lives in Ashland. He averaged a strikeout per inning over his last three high school seasons and hit .436 with 30 doubles and 97 runs batted in over that span. He posted a 3.13 earned run average as a senior in 2008.

He then completed his collegiate career at Charleston, pitching in 14 games as a senior in 2012.

Thompson said his offensive philosophy is “just get ‘em on, get ‘em over and get ‘em in,” and predictably, his overall baseball doctrine emphasizes pitching.

“Pitching is big at any level of the game,” he said. “If you got five or six quality pitchers, you’re gonna go pretty far no matter (what you do) hitting-wise. Hitting’s really important, but pitching is really the base of the game.”

Thompson takes over a program coached by his father, Terry, who coached the Eagles the past three years. Fletcher said Terry Thompson “wanted to step aside because he’s got a daughter (Becca) and she plays softball and he wanted to spend more time watching her games than coaching his.”

Matt Thompson said following his dad “is gonna help me out more than anything, because he kind of knows all the ins and outs of it and all the paperwork stuff and the behind-the-scenes stuff that you don’t really ever think about, and he’s been a really big help to me so far.”

Matt Thompson served as an assistant on Terry’s staff last season. He listed East Carter graduate Ryan Knipp, and Fairview graduates Alvin “Chip” Bailey and Brett Cooksey as his assistants.

Fairview has the unfortunate lot of trying to compete with Ashland and Boyd County in the 64th District. The Eagles have never won a district title since moving there in 2006 and have only qualified for the 16th Region Tournament once during that time, in 2009.

But because Fairview took some lumps and gained experience last spring, Thompson feels good about the Eagles’ chances of making progress this season.

“We’ve got a lot of good young guys that just came up out of middle school ball,” he said. “We lost seven seniors the year before, so a lot of guys got a lot of experience last year, so that’s gonna be developed more this year.

“So I think we’re gonna be pretty good. We should be.”

The Eagles are slated to open their 2014 schedule on March 18 when Elliott County comes to Westwood.

ZACK KLEMME can be reached at zklemme@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2658.