Fairview at Raceland

Fairview coach Ryan Knipp between the second and third inning against Raceland, Monday in Raceland. KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

Ryan Knipp’s career record as baseball coach at Fairview doesn’t tell the whole story, and he can’t help feeling like the Eagles didn’t get to tell their whole story, either.

Optimism ran high in Westwood’s baseball community after Fairview went 17-16 in 2019, clearing the .500 mark for the first time in 13 years. The Eagles’ previous struggles were forgotten, with what Knipp called a young and talented returning corps expected to keep climbing in 2020.

But that opportunity was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the 2019 rise as the Eagles’ final campaign under Knipp. He resigned on Tuesday to accept a teaching job at another area school district which he did not name.

“We were really hoping to have a season this year,” Knipp said. “We worked really hard, thought this was gonna be probably one of our best seasons we’ve had. There’s still a young group of players, so I still think they’re gonna be really good in the future.”

Fairview went 4-25 in Knipp’s second season as coach in 2017, then made an eight-win improvement in 2018 and won five more games the next spring.

“That was a start, where we wanted to build, and that’s where we wanted to be every year, a winning season and building on that,” Knipp said. “Just building a program, building a culture and an attitude toward showing up and being prepared every day.”

Knipp had previously been a girls soccer coach at his alma mater, East Carter, but Fairview was his first baseball head coaching position. He’d been an assistant to Matt Thompson for two years before inheriting the Eagles’ top spot and also apprenticed under Jeremiah Shearer with the Raiders.

“Being a head coach is so much different than any other position coaching,” Knipp said. He added what stuck with him from the experience is the added responsibility and “basically how much goes into preparing your team for a season — offseason workouts, scouting and making sure your team is prepared and focused, day in and day out.”

The baseball coaching vacancy is Fairview’s third this summer. The school has also replaced its girls and boys basketball coaches, as well as its athletic director, who knows a little something about what it takes to build a baseball program at Fairview.

“It’s a year-in and year-out process of trying to get kids out and get our field ready,” said Eagles athletic director Rick Lambert, who coached Fairview’s last winning baseball season before the most recent one, in 2006. “(Knipp) did a good job. We hated to lose him, but it is what it is. We should have a pretty good team coming back, based on what he told me.”

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