Archive for Friday, July 30, 2004

FSHS aide to coach Lions

July 30, 2004


After seven years on the other side of town, Brad Stoll had a haunting realization Wednesday, the night before he was to be introduced as Lawrence High's new baseball coach.

He had nothing appropriate to wear.

Scrambling to a nearby store, Stoll performed well in the clutch, decked out at Thursday's ceremony in a sharp red-and-black shirt.

He was smiling as LHS athletic director Ron Commons put the school's traditionally strong baseball program in his hands.

Stoll was named the fourth Lawrence High baseball coach Thursday, replacing David Petry. He was an assistant under Mike Hill at Free State High for seven years, but the 1990 LHS graduate admitted it was good to be back in red and black.

"I've always wanted to stay in town and not have to relocate my family," Stoll said. "The opportunity to come back where I graduated from is an honor. I'm looking forward to continuing the great tradition."

For baseball, it's a tradition that includes two state championships -- in 1996 and 2000 -- and an overwhelming majority of winning seasons. In 18 seasons, LHS has produced former major-leaguer Lee Stevens, minor-leaguer Kevin Hooper and Nebraska University standout Curtis Ledbetter.

Stoll would know that, of course. He's been around.

"There's a lot of wins over here, and it's certainly a challenge to continue that," he said. "Coaching against Lawrence High for seven years, I've seen the talent coming through. The cupboard certainly isn't bare."

Stoll was one of four candidates interviewed. The position opened in early June, soon after Stoll assisted Free State to a second-place finish at the Class 6A state tournament.

This summer, Stoll has enjoyed more success, coaching the U-16 Lawrence Bandits to the American Legion Class A state championship. He left Lawrence later Thursday to take the Bandits to the Legion A Mid-States Regional in Enid, Okla.

"A lot of things came into play," Commons said of Stoll's hiring. "Being able to work with all the different baseball programs that he has, from not only within the district but with the summer programs, has made him very special. We're looking forward to his continued success in baseball."

Stoll, who is also an associate scout for the Milwaukee Brewers, will inherit a Lawrence High team that finished 9-11 in 2004. Top returning players include senior pitcher David Freeman (4-3, 2.48 ERA in 2004) and junior outfielder Brian Heere (.333 average, one homer, 12 RBIs).

Stoll was preceded at Lawrence High by Lynn Harrod (1986-1996), Dirk Wedd (1997-1999) and Petry (2000-2004), all LHS grads. All three had winning records.

"One hundred years of tradition says this is a football school, and I have no problem with that," Stoll said. "It's a great football tradition here, but there's also a lot of other sports that are very powerful, and certainly, hopefully, we can continue with baseball."

Baseball isn't Stoll's only sport. He is also head football coach at West Junior High.

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