DUBLIN — John Ammons has been elevated to varsity baseball head coach and Travis Pait’s interim tag has been removed as athletics director at West Bladen High School.
The duo will handle duties that were previously under the umbrella of Kim Cain.
Ammons is beginning his seventh year at the school, having served thus far as a baseball assistant and a football assistant. He was head coach of the junior varsity team at Whiteville before coming to West Bladen, and enjoyed a baseball playing career that took him from Scotland County High School to UNC Pembroke.
His mentors, in addition to Cain, were the late Tommy Britt at Scotland, Paul O’Neil at UNCP and Brett Harwood at Whiteville. Ammons was part of the 2012 state championship team’s staff at Whiteville.
“Under those six years,” Ammons said of working alongside Cain, “I was extremely fortunate to learn under him. He’s one of the great baseball minds around. He’s been around the game all his life. He coached for 38 years, and it seemed like every year, there was something new that he brought that he showed me in the game.”
As for the others on his resume, “I’ve been with four of the best coaches in North Carolina to be around. That’s been a good thing.”
In announcing the selection with Principal Peggy Hester, Pait said, “John is an outstanding young man and has been wanting this chance for a while. He’s been around wonderful programs, but more importantly, we thought he’d be good for our kids. He’s a positive influence in the community. We’re excited and the kids are excited. We couldn’t be happier with our selection.”
Ammons said Britt’s way of treating players is something he’ll try to carry forward.
“The love and camaraderie he showed with players, and then the passion for the game,” Ammons said. “That’s the wonderful thing about these kids — they absolutely love the game. I want to make sure we’re bringing that out.”
He expressed gratitude to Hester for the opportunity, and assured his wife Christy is his biggest fan along with son Dalton and daughter Alivia.
Pait will be starting his eighth year coaching the Knights’ basketball team. He’s also the weightlifting coordinator. He’s previously served two stints totaling four years with the football staff, three as defensive coordinator for former head coach Russell Dove.
Pait said the coaching staff has already begun and will continue to have engagement with the community, to includes camps in most every sport like basketball, volleyball and cheerleading that are already going.
“We’re doing that for community outreach,” Pait said. “And we’re going a step further, asking coaches to do something. Participation across the country is going down. Half the teams in our league have no idea if they’ll have a JV football team.”
And it’s not just football junior varsity, he said. West Bladen coaches will thus try and promote participation and get more kids into sports.
“It’s proven that kids in athletics have a higher graduation rate,” he said. “We’re going to really try in the lower ages to get them engaged. This is what we need to be doing. Everybody on the staff is on board with this.”
He’ll also assist coaches in getting better, be it attending college practices or going to coaching clinics.
“I want to be better at our craft,” Pait said. “I want to be there for our coaches, anyway they want to get better.”
Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @alanwooten19.