Jordan Meadows expected to have his fair share of adversity this year.
After all, in his first-ever head coaching stint, Meadows was taking over the Shady Spring baseball program following the retirement of 23-year veteran Dave Shaw. Add in the fact that the Tigers lost seven seniors from a regional championship team that played in the state tournament, Meadows knew he had a big challenge ahead.
That was before the world was thrown a nasty curveball with the COVID-19 pandemic which put high school sports in a unwanted delay.
“I never thought this would happen in my first year, but it is something we can’t control,” Meadows said. “As a first-year head coach, I was itching to get out there with the guys. It kinda set in when they said regional (basketball) was going to be postponed. I was thinking, wow, first-year head coach and we may not even get to play.”
Meadows is a 2014 Shady Spring graduate and played baseball all four years under his predecessor. After playing one year of college baseball for Andrew Wright at Concord University, Meadows went to West Virginia University, where he graduated in December of 2018. While at WVU, he was an equipment manager for the WVU football team.
Meadows credits all three stops as critical influences in his coaching makeup.
“Coach Shaw is a very big influence. I will say small ball and squeezes are going to stay around for awhile. I am all for that kind of stuff,” Meadows said, referring to a popular strategy used by his former coach. “From coach Wright, I learned the ropes being at practice every day and seeing what it takes to run a college program. Being around the WVU football team for three years, I was able to observe various practice plans.”
After serving as an assistant coach for Shady during the 2019 season, Meadows applied for the head coaching job when Shaw announced his retirement.
“I was nervous, but I was also pretty confident in the fact that I had been around the program for so long,” Meadows said. “I just didn’t know if they were ready to pull the trigger on a 23-year-old and I didn’t know who had applied for the job. I am more than blessed that (principal Mary Ann) Foster and (athletic director Donald) Barnett gave me the chance to coach. I told them in the interview that I plan to be here way longer than they will be.”
“I also told (head boys basketball) coach (Ronnie) Olson at a basketball game two or three years ago that when I graduate college, I wanted to coach Shady Spring baseball. It has been a dream of mine ever since I left Concord. I hope to make the best of it.”
If the Tigers can get back on the diamond this year, Meadows admits his team may not be seen as the favorite, but he still feels his team can make a strong run at a return trip to the state tournament.
The Tigers will be led by Tommy Williams, Drew Clark and Grant Davis, who all have varsity experience, as does Blake Hunt, who came over from Greater Beckley Christian.
“We don’t have a lot of returning varsity experience, but I am still comfortable putting the younger guys out there,” Meadows said. “Me being a new head coach and getting them excited, we are all itching to get out there. We have Charleston on our minds for sure.”
With his team buzzing with anticipation, having to break the news to his team that the season was on hold was a tough pill to swallow.
“For me, the toughest part is for those seniors. As hard as they have worked for three years, it crushes me knowing they may not get a chance to play,” Meadows said. “We just have to do our social distancing. If we can get back to school, there is a chance for spring sports. There is always hope.”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @Rusman1981