For the first time in 13 years, the Farmington varsity baseball team will have someone other than Mike Winters as head coach.
Assistant varsity baseball coach Jon Graff is taking over as head coach for the Tigers next year.
He’s no stranger to baseball or Farmington. Graff has coached in the school district for 17 years. For the past 11, he’s been with the baseball program.
Graff has been a history teacher at Farmington High School since 1997 and he’s also coached soccer, basketball and football.
He’s had a variety of influences, assisting five different head coaches,.
“I think you learn a little bit from each one,” he said. “You see what you like and try to replicate it, and sometimes you see situations or how things are done and think about how you might handle it, or do things differently.”
Graff has been with the baseball team for many highlights.
“My favorite memories are, one, just getting out and coaching ball with all the kids that have come through the system,” he said. “But, a couple of specific moments have to be the two conference championships and our trips down to Arkansas as being things I’ll never forget.”
His coaching style won’t be much different than what players have seen before. He stresses defense and fundamentals.
“I try to get the kids to have high baseball IQs so they can react quickly to any given situation accordingly,” Graff said. “Doing small things well is a great secret to success.”
He plans on making some tweaks and implementing a throwing and workout program for high school players.
“This should help build arm strength throughout the program and ensure healthy arms that don’t get injured easily,” he said.
Graff also coaches the American Legion baseball team in Farmington so he’s well aware of the capabilities of the players.
The varsity team finished 7-7 in the Missota Conference in the spring and expects to see many returning faces in 2014.
“It even goes further as our youth programs are seeing higher numbers,” Graff said. “We’re also starting to coordinate the different leagues a little better and I look forward to working with those programs.”
He’s planning on strengthening the relationship with the youth programs.
“I want to teach kids the finer points of the game and help them develop fundamentally to help them reach their goals, whatever those might be,” Graff said. “I’ll always be an ambassador to the game, trying to generate interest, knowledge and respect for the game.”