Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> CHS too good for Goodwin to pass up

Leader sports editor

Cabot baseball coach Ronnie Goodwin, who was just hired on Thursday to replace former coach Jay Fitch, comes to Cabot with one year of head-coaching experience, but his considerable experience working with Cabot players made him a natural fit to be the first new leader of the Panther program in 15 years.

Goodwin is a former college coach, spending eight years as an assistant at the University of Central Arkansas. He left coaching for two years and worked at Ball and Strikes instructional program in Sherwood before accepting the job at Little Rock Central last June. The Tigers went 19-11 overall and 9-5 in conference play last year under Goodwin’s direction.

But it was his time in the private sector that he became familiar with Cabot baseball.

“I would say probably half the kids I worked with during that time were Cabot kids,” Goodwin said. “I got to know a lot of the parents as a private instructor and I got to see what kind of talent Cabot has, not just in the players that are here now, but the young kids coming up that are just now starting travel ball. I think Cabot is a sleeping giant about to be awakened.”

Despite his awareness of the talent in Cabot, Goodwin wasn’t extremely eager to apply for the job. His Tigers had enjoyed a successful season and had offensive and pitching talent returning.

He had also developed close relationships in Little Rock, and wasn’t planning on applying in Cabot until parents who got to know him at Balls and Strikes reached out to him and acted as mediators with the school district.

“When it first came open I didn’t throw my name in the hat because I was really, really happy where I was at,” Goodwin said. “We’d had a good season. I liked the players we had coming back and I got to know the coaches, some of whom have become my closest friends. The motivation to apply at Cabot was later when the people I had relationships with started reaching out to me.”

Goodwin decided to apply at Cabot before he had decided he would take the job if offered. After interviewing and visiting the Cabot campus and all its new baseball facilities, he says he thought Cabot could become a big-time program, but still wasn’t sure if he wanted to leave the Tigers.

“Once I met coach Roberts (Cabot athletic director Steve Roberts), I was wowed by the type of person he is and the quality leadership they have,” Goodwin said. “They have brand new, quality facilities and it was very enticing. I knew I had a big decision to make.”

Roberts offered Goodwin the job on Thursday, and Goodwin asked for the weekend to make his decision.

“I took about four days to gather up as much guidance and advice as I could from my family and friends that I trust,” Goodwin said. “It came down to just being an opportunity too good to pass up. This is the kind of opportunity that might not come around again for a long time. I think Cabot could be a great, great baseball town. Football always comes to mind when people think about Cabot, and rightfully so. But now, with all the resources and effort they’ve just put into the program, and some of the talent that I’ve seen myself, I think we can build a top program here.”