Tripp moves to baseball at Exeter

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Former boys hoops coach heading to the diamond

The Exeter school district took a ride on the coaching carousel last week, as Matt Tripp, former boys basketball coach, took another position in the district coaching his favorite sport -- baseball.

Tripp succeeds Colt Higgs, who has moved to Joplin to support his wife's nursing career and resigned due to the long daily commute.

Tripp, a current assistant baseball coach under Higgs until the end of the school year, said he's excited to hit the diamond with the Tigers next season.

"I wasn't opposed to staying on as basketball coach, but the administration and myself thought it would be best to have another basketball coach and a baseball coach, especially to help with growth in the future," he said. "Last spring season, we won just four games, and fall baseball was cut short because kids were quitting."

Robert Taylor, Exeter High School principal, said Tripp's multi-sport coaching experience has boded well for the district, but he wants Tripp to focus more on just the one sport.

"We want people to be able to focus on just one sport, like baseball or basketball, and Matt is a great baseball person and knows what we want to do," Taylor said. "Baseball is in the spring and the fall, so when he was doing basketball, too, he was coaching year-round.

"We wanted to separate out the baseball and give him the opportunity to focus on just one sport."

Tripp said in focusing on that one sport, growth in numbers will be key, which is why the district has started a middle school team.

"Most of our athletes have little or no experience because there's no travel ball around here," he said. "We are just trying to get them excited about playing the game at a young age."

Tripp said the varsity team has 10 players, and he would like to see that number get bigger.

"Having a junior varsity and a varsity is like a three- to five-year goal," he said. "I'd like to see us have at least 15 kids."

Taylor said 7-10 people applied for the job. A paraprofessional at the district, Tripp works 40 hours per week paid at a rate of $9.65 per hour. He will also earn a fall baseball stipend of $1,275, and a spring baseball stipend of $2,040.

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