Craig Webster plans to rebuild baseball tradition in Hood River

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

July 13, 2005

With hobbies like steelhead and salmon fishing, backpacking, camping, and golfing, Craig Webster will have little trouble finding things to do here in his free time. Come next spring, however, Webster may have trouble finding the time for such activities, as he fills the role of Hood River Valley High School's new varsity baseball coach.

"I'm excited," Webster said in an interview. "It is a beautiful place. I always loved coming to Hood River to play baseball. I am really excited about this opportunity."

Phil Vesel, Hood River Valley High School's athletic director, commented on the new hire: "By hiring Webster, Hood River Valley now has one of the top baseball coaches in the state. He will bring immediate credibility to our baseball program. Craig is excited about re-establishing the baseball tradition Hood River Valley had under Glenn Elliot in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s."

Webster is a score for the Hood River's struggling baseball program that, last spring, finished last in the Intermountain Conference.

"I know we have a challenge to face, but that's okay. This is a really nice challenge at this point in my career … If the kids can buy into what we are doing and if they are not afraid to work hard, we'll do great. I don't expect to turn everything around in the first year necessarily … If we teach the right things and the kids work hard we will have success."

In his coaching history, Webster has had a record of 275-180. He most recently coached at Jesuit High School where, from 1996 -2005, he saw six consecutive OSAA play-off appearances, averaging 20 wins per season. In 1997 and 2003, Webster received Metro League Coach of the Year honors, as his team finished first in the league. In 2003 he was voted Oregon's 4A state Coach of the Year.

Webster has also coached high school basketball, football, softball, and volleyball.

During his undergraduate years at Western Oregon University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in health and physical education, Webster played varsity basketball and track and played major fast pitch softball during two World Tournaments. He then went on to earn his masters degree in secondary education at Lewis and Clark College in 1978.

A year later Webster began his teaching career. He taught for four years at Oregon City High School, 14 years at Milwaukie High School, and nine years at Jesuit High School. He will continue teaching health and physical education at Hood River Valley High School.

Along with over 30 years of baseball coaching experience, Webster will bring to Hood River his longtime assistant coach Greg Cusick, who has his own impressive list of coaching credentials. Cusick has acted as the head baseball coach for Reynolds High School, a coach for Portland State University, and an assistant to Webster at Jesuit and Beaverton high schools.

Webster will have an official introduction at 5:30 p.m. this Wednesday, July 13 at the Hood River Valley High School baseball field prior to Hood River's American Legion baseball team practice.

"The hire of Craig Webster and Tracy Jackson (HRVHS’s new head football coach) is the result of having a great school and a supportive community," Vesel said. "Both of these gentlemen are quality teachers and great coaches. I know they will fit into our school and community perfectly."

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