By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
COAL CITY —
It may seem strange to not see Joe Goddard making the decisions for Independence this baseball season, but a familiar face will be filling the void.
Scott Cuthbert was officially approved as the school’s second-ever baseball coach by vote of the Raleigh County Board of Education at their regular meeting Tuesday evening. Goddard, the man who led the Patriots to the area’s first state championship in 1990, retired Jan. 18 after 36 seasons.
“I’m really excited about it,” Cuthbert said. “It’s a real neat opportunity. I grew up around that baseball program.”
Cuthbert graduated from Independence in 1995 and played two years at Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky. He came back home as an assistant to Goddard for two seasons before taking an assistant coaching job at Ohio Valley College for three years. He returned to Independence and has remained there.
He also has been an assistant on the football staff, serving under his dad, Scotty, until he retired in November.
The first day of practice for West Virginia teams was Monday. Cuthbert said the experience was definitely different with Goddard not there.
“It’s hard to explain,” Cuthbert said. “It was a new experience for everybody. When somebody who was there for 36 years is no longer there, it’s different for everybody involved. It was different for (the players) like it was different for me.”
Cuthbert knows he has big shoes to fill. Goddard won 11 sectional championships and six regional titles and led the team to a pair of state title games, including a 7-4 win over Sherman for the team’s only championship 23 years ago.
In 2004, the school’s baseball field was renamed Joseph H. Goddard Field.
“I never dreamed I would be the next coach after coach Goddard,” Cuthbert said.
The Patriots are scheduled to begin their season March 18 at Van.
— E-mail: gfauber@