For one of the few times in his baseball coaching career, Wes Caldwell was speechless.
The former Rhea County coach has accepted an offer to coach baseball at Lookout Valley.
"I'm at a loss for words," he said. "I don't know that there is a better job in southeast Tennessee than Lookout Valley," he said. "The program has the tradition, good kids to coach, a beautiful facility, pride in the program and community support."
Caldwell, for 15 years the head coach at Rhea, succeeds David Dinger, who stepped down to spend more time with his daughter, a basketball and softball player who'll be entering middle school this year.
"Wes is a great fit for Lookout Valley," said Dinger, who met Caldwell on Thursday to give him keys to the baseball field, press box and equipment shed. "I'm excited about his hiring and I'm happy for the kids and the program. He is a highly respected baseball man. He'll fit in here just fine."
Caldwell has been one of the more colorful characters in area baseball circles because of his energetic and competitive attitude.
"That's one of the things that's attractive about him," Dinger said. "I've watched him over the years, and that energy and spirit were contagious among his players."
The admiration is mutual.
"David got so much out of his players, and you knew that they were always going to be sound fundamentally," Caldwell said. "This isn't a job where you go in and change a bunch of stuff. I want to keep the program like it has been, and it has always been a program that had a lot of class."
His comments included the Lookout Valley administration headed by Lee McDade, the school's principal.
"In meeting with these guys," Caldwell said, "I'm impressed with the administration and how strong it is and the support and love they have for the community. Dr. McDade is going to be an awesome person to work for."
n In another coaching move, Shane Roberson has been added to the faculty at Signal Mountain Middle/High School and will serve both schools as a teacher and as a football and baseball assistant. Most recently at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, the Baylor graduate also served one year as the head baseball coach at Sequatchie County.