Tuesday, June 07, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> SH assistant taking over Jackrabbits

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Jackrabbits have hired a new head baseball coach, and it’s a familiar name in the area. Sylvan Hills assistant coach Chris Foor takes over as head Jackrabbit, and does so after three state championship appearances in 10 years with the Bears.

He played college ball at Southwest Oklahoma and has been coaching for 16 years. He saw the sudden opportunity at Lonoke as a good time to take over a program for the first time.

“I used to give instruction at an indoor batting cage out there,” said Foor. “I got to know some people in the community. I coached a Prospects team a few years ago that had a couple of kids who are now seniors at Lonoke, so I have a little knowledge of what they have. All that, given its proximity to Sherwood, it just seemed like the perfect fit.”

Foor has been an assistant for three of Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton’s five state championship appearances. Prior to joining Tipton’s staff, he coached at Jacksonville Junior High for six years.

“I owe coach Tipton a lot,” Foor said. “When I came in I had a good working knowledge of the intricacies of the game, the fundamentals. What I really learned at Sylvan Hills was how to manage a game. I feel like I’ve grown quite a bit in that aspect.”

The head baseball position came open at Lonoke in the middle of the season this year when former coach Darrick Lowery resigned several days after being suspended pending an investigation into inappropriate text messages to at least one student.

The team, which was undefeated in conference at the time, lost its first game after Lowery’s resignation, but rebounded to win the rest of its league games. The Jackrabbits finished second at district and third in regionals before losing to Hamburg in the first round of the state tournament in Ashdown.

Nick Smith, Lowery’s assistant, led the team through last season on an interim basis. He was made the head junior high football coach last week. Either Smith, or his football assistant Tyler Shaw, will be Foor’s assistant on the baseball staff.

Foor will also help out on the junior high football team, and teach history and economics at LHS. He also has experience in football at that level. He was the head ninth-grade football coach at Sylvan Hills for four years.

Only two seniors graduated from last year’s team, and a lot of talent is returning, including Arkansas Razorback signee Casey Martin.

“Casey and Hunter Haven are the two guys I coached in Prospects ball,” Foor said. “I’m pretty lucky the opportunity arose when it did. The other ones I’m getting to know and hearing good things about.

“Like I said, it was just a perfect fit. Everything they needed, I had experience in and had some success. There’s talent there. The community is passionate about sports and supports it well. I feel like it’s the right time and I’m excited to get started.”