Cody Brown, Staff Writer
GREENFIELD — Last spring, the McClain Tigers finished near the .500 mark and third in the Frontier Athletic Conference. This spring, they’ll try to improve on both of those marks … and with a new face leading the charge.
Greenfield has hired Kenny Branscom as the new head coach of the varsity baseball program. The post will be Branscom’s first head coaching job after serving as an assistant at Adena for the last four seasons.
“It’s exciting,” Branscom said. “Taking the next step in my career as a coach is something I’ve always wanted to do and being able to take the reigns and try to turn Greenfield McClain into a winning program is something I’m looking forward to.”
Branscom was quick to credit coach Tom Barr, whom he coached under at Adena for helping push him to this position.
“It really comes down to Tom Barr and the way he took me under his wing,” he said. “He drove me to want to do better and take over a program and this is where it’s led me.”
As a first year head coach, Branscom recognizes there will be some challenges along the way but he hopes to build excitement in the community for the baseball program at McClain.
“[Athletic Director] Trevor Arnett has really given me the go to open up and expand things that haven’t been done here before,” Branscom said. “We’re going to get in the gym in the winter and get to know the kids. From the word go, we are going to have an excitement in the coaching staff that will be passed onto the players.“
McClain graduated 10 seniors from last year’s team and will return six this year. In order to create a team that is able to contend every year, Branscom will need the returners to buy into a new program.
“I think the biggest thing is going to be dedication. Getting the players to buy into the things I want to do as a coach and the program we are going to be running … if we start doing things the right way and working our butts off, good things are going to come.”
One of the most interesting things to watch from a fan’s perspective this season may be two matchups between Branscom and his mentor.
Barr accepted the head coaching position at Chillicothe High School which, is also in the FAC. The Tigers and Cavaliers will face off twice this season with Branscom and Barr in opposite dugouts.
“Before the game, we will be best friends … and after the game will be the same way,” Branscom said. “Smiles and hugs. But when we step in between the lines, it’s time to win.”
“I’m thankful [McClain] believed in me and I’m thankful for the references that reached out and said I was the right guy for the job. It really means a lot. I would love to take this program and build it and make it my own. I want to establish the program, win an FAC championship, win some tournament games … but more importantly, I want to hear the stories of the players that come back. The players that graduate and come back to tell me their success stories in life and how we helped them grow into outstanding gentlemen and great young men in the community.”