Former Wildcat now head baseball coach at Pierce City
Curry recalls Cassville playing days, drive to become a coach
Cassville baseball fans will now have a reason to pay attention to another school's baseball team, as Pierce City High School has hired former Wildcat B.J Curry as its new coach.
For Curry, the job represents an opportunity to build a program and establish himself in the coaching ranks. For Pierce City, Curry is the third coach in the last four years.
"First and foremost, I have got to start building relationships with my players," Curry said. "I need to understand who these guys are, what they are capable of, and then, where we can take them."
While at Cassville, Curry earned all-state accolades under Coach Rod Hemphill.
"Coach Hemphill was one of those classic coaches in that he was always getting on you," Curry said. "He was intense all the time. Whether we were in the gym or on the field, he brought his best every day and expected no less from his players."
It was Hemphill's drive that inspired Curry the most.
"Deep down, I knew that he was tough on us because he cared," he said. "We were a good team, and after our season, he told us that he needed to be tough on us to keep the team focused.
"When we won the conference title, I remember him come down the line with tears in his eyes saying, 'I can't coach you guys,' we all knew then that everything he did, he did for the betterment of the team."
Curry, a 2002 graduate of Cassville, played short stop and pitched at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout.
He spent one season as a graduate assistant at Point Lookout, before two years as a head coach of basketball and baseball at Exeter.
Curry then returned to College of the Ozarks as an assistant baseball coach and director of intramural sports before spending last season at Forsyth as an assistant baseball coach.
"For the past five years, I have learned a ton about coaching baseball and motivating players," Curry said. "I learned a ton from playing, but I found out, it isn't what you know, it is how well you can teach someone.
"Something I have really focused on the last five years is teaching the game of baseball."
Curry was one of 15 applicants for the baseball position at Pierce City. Of those, the district interviewed seven before settling on Curry, according to Athletic Director Matt Street.
One concern the district was seeking to address with their new selection was finding a coach willing to stay longer than one or two seasons, hoping to bring stability to the baseball program.
"We wanted to bring in a baseball-first guy and not just a coach that we assigned for baseball," said Russ Moreland, Pierce City superintendent. "I think B.J. will be able to relate well to the kids. He has the right maturity and love for the game, and I believe he will be here for a while and build upon our strong nucleus of players."
Curry's knowledge of the area is what drew him to apply for the Eagles' diamond job.
"I knew that Pierce City had a solid program," Curry said. "That first impression made me want to come check the place out. When I got here, I got excited about how passionate the players were and the fans are about baseball. I think we can build something special at this school."
Curry will be paid a base salary of $29,975 with a coaching stipend of $3,500. He will receive and additional $900 to be the middle school boys basketball coach, according to Moreland.
Cassville alumnus B.J. Curry, right, will lead the Pierce City baseball team for the 2015-2016 season. Curry credited part of his desire to coach baseball from his time spent playing for the Wildcats.