Moffat County High School baseball's new head coach is no stranger to the program or the game.
Justin Folley served as the assistant coach last season, as well as the skipper of the Moffat County American Legion Post 62 baseball team during the summer.
Before taking over the reigns, Folley, 27, played college baseball for four years at University of Mary in North Dakota, before graduating in 2006.
After he graduated, he helped coach his college team before moving to Craig.
He was the assistant coach to Tim Hafey, who resigned in June, and led the American Legion team to an 18-6 record.
The former middle infielder and current Craig Middle School teacher said taking over the team is something he's wanted for a while.
"Once I got into teaching, I wanted to coach at the high school level," he said. "It's definitely something I've wanted to do, and working with the high school program this summer really got me interested in getting this job."
It was his familiarity that prompted new athletic director Richard Wildenhaus to offer the top spot to Folley.
"Justin has been working with us as an assistant coach, and he had taken over the summer Legion role," Wildenhaus said. "He developed a rapport with the student athletes, and that was important to us."
Folley has other traits the high school was looking for in a coach, Wildenhaus said.
"With his baseball knowledge and his excitement for coaching, he seemed like a good fit," he said. "We feel like we hired the best person for the job."
Wildenhaus said there were several other applicants for the job, but Folley's familiarity with the program set him apart.
"Knowing the kids was definitely a big part of it," Wildenhaus said. "He's had a good working relationship with the players and the parents."
Folley officially became the head coach last week.
"They let me know a couple weeks ago, so I interviewed for the position," Folley said. "A few days later, they asked me if I'd take the job."
Originally from California, Folley moved to Craig to be closer to his family.
"My mother is originally from here; she moved back to help take care of some family things," he said. "In February 2008, I moved here, got the teaching job and now I'm going on to my second year of teaching and coaching."
With school starting Aug. 31, Folley has been busy arranging his seventh-grade social studies room in the new Craig Middle School.
"It's been about a week since I heard, but I've been so busy at school getting my classroom set up I haven't thought about it," he said. "But it is exciting news. Baseball is in my blood."
As for coaching, Folley said big changes would not come immediately.
"I want to keep things moving with the way they have been the past two months," he said. "It's been great working with these kids."
The biggest change will be where the team plays its games, Folley said.
"It's going to be something new next year with the field - that's going to be a huge change for us," he said. "I know the kids are really excited to get out there and play on the field."
The field at Craig Middle School, which is also used by the high school team, has recently undergone a renovation with new turf and batting cages.
"I don't plan on making dramatic changes," he said. "There will be a few different things that I do as coach compared to what people have done in the past."
Some of those changes have little to do with baseball, Folley said.
"We'll definitely look to do more community service," he said. "We also have the fundraiser to keep adding on the field."
Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.