Young but driven
New coach’s resume reflects attitude toward love of sport
Eudora High School baseball coach Dirk Kinney may be one of the school's youngest varsity coaches at 25, but the new coach has nearly a decade of coaching experience.
"He's got a college baseball background, and I think he'll do a good job," Eudora High School Activities Director Dave Durkin said. "He has a real good relationship with the kids."
Kinney, who pitched at Murray State (Ky.), Fort Hays State, and Sterling College (Kan.), began coaching youth baseball at the age of 16 in his native Elgin, Okla. Kinney spent the last two seasons as the pitching coach under Eudora coach John Dunaway, who stepped down last month. Kinney has also worked on the coaching staff of summer league baseball for 15- and 16-year-old players.
"I'm very excited. We've got a good senior bunch," Kinney said. "I just got done coaching sophomores and juniors. They work hard, and that's what I like."
Kinney said the Cardinals will raise the bar in terms of their expectations. With an experienced pitching staff of five seniors, John Born, Heath Fanning, Tyler Jackson, Seth Johnson, and Tyler Wingebach and junior Chris Gabriel, Eudora could be a dangerous team when regional play begins in mid-May.
"Our goal isn't going to be five hundred anymore," Kinney said. "Our goal will be to win 15 games, and I'd like us to get out of regionals."
Kinney said the team would have to have good pitching and defense and play solid fundamental offense to reach those goals next season.
"It's a challenge; and that's what I like," Kinney said. "We've got to have good pitching and defense and we've got to do the little things steal bases, bunt the baseball and manufacture runs."
Kinney has not found a pitching coach to replace him, but he said junior varsity coach Justin Mayer will stay in his role. Kinney said the fact that the team will be able to play on two baseball fields, including the new one adjacent to the high school, will give the team more practice time. He is also pleased with the way Eudora supports its baseball programs, from Little League to the Eudora High School varsity level.