ST. PARIS – Jay Lewis always dreamed of coming home. Earlier this year he got his wish and was named Graham’s athletic director, after serving 20 years as the Head Men’s Baseball Coach at Wittenberg.
“Last spring when I decided to take this role, I felt like I could serve our community better in this position. I have lived in St. Paris all my life and love this community and the blue collar families it represents. It was great to grow up in a family that had two great parents that had that blue collar work ethic, but, more importantly, had a sense of service to community. My parents would help anyone in need, be it a neighbor, friend, or a student that my dad coached or taught. That is what really motivated me to come back and be a part of the Graham family.”
Soon after being hired, the head baseball coach position opened up, and the most experienced candidate was an internal one.
“It has been my dream since I graduated in 1989 to coach here one day. I am so proud to be the athletic director and baseball coach at Graham. I always knew I wanted to coach here after playing for Donzil Hall and seeing what a career he had made out of being an athletic director and successful baseball coach here at Graham,” he said.
Lewis had been coaching baseball at the collegiate level since age 24. Now he’ll bring his experience back to Graham’s program.
“I feel like I was lucky to get the opportunity when I did to coach at the college level at a young age. I feel as though that was an opportunity I could not have passed up, and it gave me some great professional development opportunities that I can pass onto not just our players, but other high school athletes that are looking to play sports in college, as well coaches of all our sports. I feel I can bring a different way of looking at how our players practice and prepare to play and understand the daily fundamentals, and develop them to play at a higher level so they grow as players,” he said.
Having spent his first year as athletic director building relationships and managing the operations at Graham, Lewis is excited to develop professional development opportunities for staff, and leadership development for athletes. As he works with colleagues, he has an eye for some new fundraising ideas, long-range facilities plans, and teaching what he has learned. He also understands the demands of meeting both of his roles.
“When coaching in college, you have to balance a great deal throughout the year between planning for the year, teaching in the sports management department, recruiting student-athletes, as well as the fall non-traditional season, pre-season, and your traditional season of play. I feel those experiences more than prepared me to coach and be the athletic director here at Graham,” he said.
The Falcons baseball team will have the benefit of a wealth of that collegiate coaching experience soon enough.