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New Franklin coach played baseball for Grizzly Cubs in ’90s

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New Franklin Community High School baseball coach Ryan Feyerabend led the Grizzly Cubs to a regional championship as a player in 1995. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
New Franklin Community High School baseball coach Ryan Feyerabend led the Grizzly Cubs to a regional championship as a player in 1995. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

Matching the right person with a particular job sometimes can be a challenge.

But for the folks in charge of hiring the new baseball coach at Franklin Community High School, choosing Ryan Feyerabend was easy.

Listen to Feyerabend speak about the program, a former standout player in it, and it’s easy to understand how much the community, school and program are a major part of what makes him tick.

“I live in Franklin and I always have,” said Feyerabend, 35, who was hired this month.

“I knew coaching here was a good opportunity for a coach, but it is a little more personal for me. It means a lot to me to see our young men succeed and do very well.

“I don’t know a lot of guys who get the opportunity to coach at their alma mater.”

Feyerabend played on the Grizzly Cubs’ most recent regional championship team in 1995 before playing four years as a first baseman at Indiana State.

He has been an assistant coach at Franklin for the past three seasons, working under head coach Paul Strack, who left to pursue outside opportunities.

Feyerarbend doesn’t plan to deviate from Strack’s approach. The Cubs, after all, finished 17-10 last season and won their first sectional title since 1995.

Franklin’s season ended in heartbreaking 1-0 loss against Class 4A No. 8 Jeffersonville in the semifinal of the Evansville Reitz Regional.

“We (assistant coaches and players) really liked our head coach, and we are coming off our best season last year since my junior year in high school,” Feyerabend said. “I think people agreed that this isn’t the time to change directions. All of the assistants will be on board, and I’ll just move from coaching first base to third base.

“Our philosophy, the way we do business, won’t change.”

Last season the Grizzly Cubs achieved a rare trifecta, winning the Mid-State Conference, the Johnson County Tournament and the sectional. Feyerabend said he is confident the pieces are in place for the program to continue enjoying that level of success.

Hard work and preparation are the key ingredients he identifies in the program’s system.

“You can see it going on right now with winter workouts,” Feyerabend said. “I think the biggest thing to our jumping from being OK to being really competitive was that we got a big push from our strength and conditioning coach (Jeremy Hartman). The kids have seen the fruits of their labor. It is impressive to watch them in there.

“Not everybody liked it at first because it was hard and it was different, but the administration hired him to take care of some important things, and it works.”

In addition to being a lifelong member of the community, Feyerabend credits strong community support as another reason for recent Cubs’ strides.

“Being involved in the community, I’ve been impressed with the group of young men we have at the school,” he said. “They work extremely hard in the classroom and are very respectable kids. We have good baseball in Johnson County. We have the Junior Grizzlies program, and we’re able to keep young kids together so when they get to high school, they have played together.

“It helps them to know whether baseball is really the sport for them.”

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