Eads takes Baldwin post

JJ Eads
JJ Eads

BALDWIN — JJ Eads has decided to take new teaching and coaching duties at another school district, but not too far from Reed City.

The Baldwin Board of Education voted to appoint Eads as its boys varsity coach at its meeting on Tuesday, June 25. Eads had previously taken a teaching position at Baldwin.

Robert Watkins had served as boys basketball coach last season and had reapplied for the job. Baldwin athletic director Scott Pedigo said Eads was recommended to the school board.

“He was looking for a bit of a change and reached out to me,” Pedigo said. “We’ve coached together. We kept in touch. He was interested in a teaching position.”

Eads will be teaching English at Baldwin as he did in Reed City.

Baldwin had been a powerhouse basketball team in previous years but struggled to 3-15 last year.

“He was the best candidate we had who applied (for boys basketball coach),” Pedigo said. “He comes with almost 20 years of experience as head coach. I don’t know how many wins he’s had, but at Crossroads, he had 20-plus win seasons and at Reed City he had some good seasons. I think it’s a great opportunity for our kids to have an experienced coach. When he became available we wanted to jump on it.”

As of two weeks ago, Eads was still coaching Reed City in summer basketball action. Right around that time, he took the teaching position. He said he had been thinking about moving on from Reed City.

“The Baldwin position opened up and I got to know the superintendent (Rick Heitmeyer),” he said. “We talked about the teaching position first and the coaching position came up later.”

Asked why he decided to make the change, Eads replied: “A lot of it had to do with the treatment I got at Reed City. I didn’t think it was right. There was no chain of command to follow. People would go over my head and my athletic director’s head and complain to the superintendent or the school board. It seemed like a lot of things were being secretive. I don’t like how that was being done.

“I’m from Reed City, too, and never thought I’d leave. You can take only so much with people talking behind your back. I know it’s a part of coaching. I didn’t like how things went down. It was just perceived problems by a couple of parents and a board member, or two.”

Reed City athletic Kurt Grangood complimented Eads efforts at Reed City.

“JJ was given the Reed City boys’ program during some difficult times, and was able to guide the team and program by building trust and integrity,” Grangood said. “He has done a remarkable job building a staff from the middle school level through to the varsity level, and that translates to players knowing and feeling they are a part of the team concept.

“JJ will not only be missed on the Coyote sideline, but in the classroom, too.”

Eads played basketball at Reed City and graduated in 1994. He coached there the last three years. He replaced Dean McGuire during the fall of 2016 when McGuire suddenly resigned as coach. Eads was previously at Crossroads 12 years where he coached and was a teacher and athletic director.

He’s ready to take on a new challenge at Baldwin.

“They had graduated a lot of talent and had a rough year last year,” Eads said. “I grew up around that area and knew they had a good basketball tradition. I’m up for the challenge and looking forward to a school that takes basketball pretty serious.”

Eads isn’t sure how much of a summer program he can put together right now in Baldwin.

“We’ll get the word out after dead week and see what open gyms we can do,” Eads said. “Hopefully we’ll get something going.”

At Reed City, the athletic department has filled vacancies for head football, girls basketball and track in recent months.

For boys basketball, “we do not have a hard timeline for the position. Right now, the summer practices are being completed by the coaching staff,” Grangood said.