MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

June 21, 2014

Haskell coach to make move to Fort Gibson

Matt Ross is headed back to where his coaching career began.

Ross, pending board approval, will be the new baseball coach at Fort Gibson High School. He’ll replace Randy Smith, who resigned at the end of the 2014 season after 25 years at the school. Ross interned under Smith in 2004.

“My dad and grandparents were raised in Fort Gibson,” Ross said. “I wasn’t, but they were. I’ve always been in this area, and it’s a great program to be a part of. It’s really an honor to follow a guy like Randy.”

Smith stated he came to his decision to resign because of a split with some of the parents and their beliefs as to how the baseball program should be run. Ross said he was unaware of the rift and wasn’t concerned about the dispute.

“I haven’t had any conversations with anybody of that nature,” Ross said. “I’m going into it just like I did when I took the Haskell job. I’m there to coach baseball and do it as hard as I can and as often as I can.”

Ross comes to the Tigers after five seasons at Haskell where he compiled a 62-67 record, including a berth in the 2011 Class 3A state tournament.

“Haskell’s always had a great tradition, even before I got there,” Ross said. “Basically, we had a good work ethic and the kids just loved to play ball. And that’s what I’m going to do at Fort Gibson.”

Prior to his arrival at Haskell, he was the fastpitch softball coach at Hilldale for two seasons and compiled a 29-28 record. Ross is very familiar with both the rivalry he’s coming into and Darren Riddle, the baseball and fastpitch softball coach at Hilldale.

“It’s a great rivalry and makes for great competition,” he said. “I worked with Darren for four years and he’s a great coach and a good guy. But the fact of it is beating Hilldale doesn’t make or break my season.”

Ross also said he will be put together a schedule that will test his players, which he says is the only way to make them better.

“If you’ve ever followed Haskell, that’s the first thing we started doing,” Ross said. “We used to lead off against teams like Tahlequah. If you’re going to make a monster, you have to beat one. You’ve got to go play the big ones.”

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