By Jeremy Stafford -- firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG -- The employing of Morgan Saeler isn't an unparalleled hire, but it is a rare one.
Last week, Saeler, the assistant principal at Stonewall Jackson High School, was named head coach of the Generals' varsity baseball team; he is the only vice principal in the area who is also the coach of an athletic program.
"It's a lot more common than you would think, just not around here," Stonewall athletic director Todd Fannin said of the hiring of an administrator as a coach. "I mean, it is done elsewhere, but it is unique [in] Shenandoah County."
Following a 2008 campaign in which they won only three games, the Generals capped their 2009 baseball season with a 15-4 loss to Riverheads in the Shenandoah District quarterfinals, and ended with a disappointing record of 5-13 (2-8 Shenandoah).
Bill Harlow, who had coached at Stonewall for nine years, gave Fannin his resignation before the quarterfinal loss.
A pitching coach for the Woodstock River Bandits for one season and an assistant JV coach at Central for five seasons, Saeler said that his plan at Stonewall Jackson isn't to hammer out wins early in the season so much as it is to focus on doing "the little things right."
"We're gonna teach the love of the game, and respect for the game, and fundamentals of baseball," said Saeler, who played Division III ball at Penn State Erie. "Once we get those little things down pat, then the big things like winning will come easy."
Fannin said that it was that excitement, and that passion for the game of baseball, which made his decision to bring Saeler on as baseball coach an easy one.
"He was very motivated, he was really excited about the possibility," Fannin said. "And it'll be a unique situation, to say the least. Somebody that is as motivated, and as knowledgeable as he is, is the perfect match for the position that we have to fill."
Saeler was the assistant principal at Strasburg High School from 2006 to 2009 before he took the same position at Stonewall Jackson over the summer. And rather than think his status as an administrator will affect how his players interact with him on the field, Saeler expects his position as baseball coach will improve his rapport with the students in the classroom.
"I think that my goal is for them to respect me as a baseball coach out on the baseball field," he said. "But I think it's a great opportunity to get to know the kids in a different way than most assistant principals do get to know the kids, and for me to get out in the community and to be involved in the community a little more.
"I won't be that guy that sits in his office and plays on his computer all day."