Vikings coach Gritton steps aside

DANVILLE — Gary Gritton, who coached the Danville High School baseball team for 12 seasons and won nearly 200 games, has resigned.

Gritton cited the increasing difficulty of continuing to be effective both in the classroom as a history teacher and in his coaching duties.

“The biggest thing is the current demands placed on classroom teachers are greater than ever before, and it’s made it very difficult to balance being an effective teacher and also the expectations I have for the baseball program.

“It’s at a point where I thought it was best for the program that I step aside and let somebody else who can dedicate the time and the energy needed to run the baseball program at Danville to take over.”

Gritton said he resigned Nov. 27, calling a meeting of his returning players to let them know of his decision. On Thursday, Danville High athletic director B.J. Luke announced that an opening for the position had been publicly posted.

Gritton said he did not come to this decision lightly.

“Very difficult,” he said. “Danville High School baseball has been a huge part of my life. I’ve made so many lifelong friends through coaching at Danville, from opposing coaches to umpires to the players, which you develop very close relationships with. It was a very difficult decision.”

During Gritton’s tenure, his Vikings teams compiled a 193-179-3 record, highlighted by five regional titles and a sectional crown in 2012.

“Those are things I’m certainly very proud of,” he said.

Gritton indicated that becoming a father within the last year — he and his wife have an 11-month-old son — played a role in his decision.

“But, honestly, the biggest thing was the balancing act of trying to be an effective classroom teacher and coach,” he said. “I’ve always put the teaching first.”

Gritton said Geoff Desmond, who at various times has served on his Vikings staff, has expressed an interest in succeeding him. Desmond, a Danville native, played collegiately at Arkansas State and professionally in the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league system.

“I would love to see Geoff get the job,” Gritton said. “I think he would do a tremendous job with the program.”
 

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