November 28 - Two days prior to his 33rd birthday, Nick Grove received an early present yesterday when he was offered the head coaching position at Gar-Field High School.
The Williamsport, PA native was officially announced late this afternoon as the Indians’ new skipper in a release by Michael Payne, the school’s director of student activities. "Gar-Field and Coach Grove are excited to continue the tradition of excellence with our baseball program,” Payne wrote in the release.
“It’s very exciting and very humbling to be able to get back out there and do it again,” said Grove, who was previously a head coach in Pennsylvania and Nevada but hasn't coached since 2013. “What I missed most was the grind and getting the kids to compete for championships and to be successful whether on the baseball field, in the classroom, or in life.”
Grove, who is in his second year as a social studies teacher at nearby Potomac, served as the coach at Hughesville (PA) from 2008-10, leading the Spartans to a 40-24 mark and a school-record 15 victories in each of his final two seasons. After relocating to the Las Vegas area, he served as an assistant at Centennial in 2011 and then as the head softball coach at Shadow Ridge in 2012. In 2013, he took the reigns at one of the state’s weaker programs in Sunrise Mountain, which fielded just a 10-man roster and went 2-16 in his lone season.
“That was an interesting year, it humbled me a lot,” said Grove, who left coaching after that season to return to school and complete his master’s degree in educational administration at Grand Canyon University.
Grove’s late father, Scott, won over 300 games as the head coach at Williamsport from 1988-2007, then served on his son’s staff at Hughesville for three years prior to passing away in 2010. Grove played in high school for his father, then pitched collegiately at Spartanburg Methodist College, a Division I junior college in South Carolina, and at Division II Mansfield University in Pennsylvania.
He will take over a Gar-Field program that began to show signs of turning things around last spring, when the Indians went 9-10, had a five-game winning streak and earned wins over rivals C.D. Hylton and Woodbridge in former coach Mike Meadows’ final season. The team’s top-returning players are seniors Miles Lawhorn and Marty Neal, who earned all-6A Conference 4 honors.
“I’ll promise you, whether we’re up 10 or down 10, we’ll be sprinting on and off the field and will play the game the right way,” Grove said. “We’ll be scrappy.”
Gar-Field, as part of the Virginia High School League's realignment, will play in the new Eastern District along with Colgan, Forest Park, Freedom-Woodbridge, Potomac and Woodbridge. Each of district's members are Class 6 sans Potomac, a Class 5 school.
Grove's hiring leaves two remaining vacancies at Northern Virginia schools, at Alexandria's Jefferson and Sterling's Park View.
Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Sun