New Baseball Coach: Buchheit

 

Most of the time when someone is hired as a first-year head coach they have a significant offseason in which to prepare and get to know their players before the inaugural season.

Luke Buchheit didn’t have that luxury.

Sprague High School’s first-year head baseball coach officially started working at the school in January, but he has raised the already lofty expectations for the program and brought along with him a new energy to the team.

Buchheit has a talent-rich and senior heavy team that had success – the team was third in the Central Valley Conference and went to the second round of the state playoffs last year.

“I am stepping into a very good situation in regards to work ethic, skill level, baseball knowledge and competiveness,” Buchheit said. “It has been refreshing and reassuring to walk into a situation, a scenario, like this.

“And confident in the fact that expectations are high and we should be very successful.”

The past two head coaches of Sprague’s baseball program – Bill Baumgartner and Brian Champion – set the bar high and established the team as a perennial contender.

“It’s kind of fun, though, because we kind of get to be the start of the next era for Sprague baseball, and so we kind of get to set the tone for the program as long as Buch’s here,” senior Jackson Engelking said. “I kind of like that. That’s pretty cool.”

To be sure, Champion – the program’s head while most of the current crop of players were growing up and playing in feeder levels – and Buchheit have similar loves of the game.

But Buchheit approaches the game with a different manner.

“I think they have their differences and their similarities,” said senior pitcher Dakota Albrecht, an all-state player last year. “They’re both very loud.

“I think coach Buchheit, we focus more on fundamentals. I think that is going to help us out. But I think all together their coaching styles are very similar.”

Champion coached the team the past 10 seasons, including winning a state championship in 2005, and Baumgartner the 17 years previous to that, including winning a state championship in 1995.

They make for quite the act to follow.

“For me I’m trying to make it my own,” said Buchheit, a former standout in baseball and football at Linfield. “I’m trying to make it a very tradition rich program to which we’ve had in the past and continue what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished.

“And also recognize the fact that we’ve been very successful in the past, we do have a couple state championships in the past, and build upon that. I’ve got to be myself, I got to use my philosophy and integrate it in what we do at Sprague, and for the most part I have to be able to feel comfortable in my own skin and coach it the way I’ve been taught and I want it done.”

Most of the CVC’s coaches spent last summer coaching most or at least part of the summer coaching their future varsity players.

Buchheit doesn’t have that luxury.

“One thing to remember is a lot of his kids played legion ball,” West Salem coach Micah Tiffin said. “I think that they’re talented enough and Luke will do a good job. Luke knows baseball. He got the job for a reason.

“Luke is very organized and he’s very prepared. Obviously Brian was well liked, but I think the kids, they know what they need to do and they prepare hard.”

Buchheit, Regis’ football coach for its 2003 state runner-up season and in 2004, spent the past nine years as an assistant coach in baseball and football at his alma mater of McMinnville.

He lived in West Salem during that time and commuted back to his hometown.

Buchheit said he thought McMinnville’s top job was a destination job, but when he had the opportunity to take over as head coach at Sprague that it was one he wanted because of the program’s success.

“It was definitely a transition, but I feel the team adapted really quickly to having a new coach,” said senior catcher Jackson Smith. “Buch made that really easy. He’s a charismatic guy. The team bonded really quickly and it’s been really good so far.”

 

Original Article by Bill Poehler, Statesman Journal

Signatures

  • Original by Austin Collier -- 3/21/2013
  • Created By Carter McQuigg -- 6/1/2017

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