After about six hours of sitting in the press box at Sprague High School I started to think I was having some sort of epiphany about high school sports. Then at halftime the world crashed down. That was when Sprague had a ceremony recognizing departing baseball coach Brian Champion.
Champion has resigned his position as head baseball coach at Sprague after a decade on the job and has taken the head coaching position at Centennial High School in Meridian, Idaho. “Just been talking to them on the phone and through word of mouth and interviews,” Champion said after Sprague’s 63-14 win against McKay. “I’ve actually been there once, over a weekend. I finally went there, but I got hired before.”
Champion, it should be said, also has been an assistant coach for Sprague’s football team, working mainly with the secondary, but he has been on the coaching staff at Sprague for over 10 years.
As a baseball coach he was one of the most successful around, including guiding the 2005 version of the Olympians to the Class 4A state championship.
Champion, a former minor leaguer in the Braves organization, replaced Bill Baumgartner as head coach at Sprague and the team was in the top half of the league every year.
While talking with him after the football game he said his wife, Tanya, had been putting off promotions in her career so he could continue to coach at Sprague, but said that she had been offered a big promotion if they moved to Idaho.
What I will miss most about Champion is the level attitude he takes about everything.
Sure he enjoys the wins, but after a loss he is not grouchy and complaining about the officials. Instead I always found him in the dugout, whether on the road or at home, calmly going over the scorebook and talking in the same calm manor as always.
Athletes see how their coaches act and emulate it – consciously or subconsciously – and I think his players were better off for having seen his example of how he carries himself.