The Washington Wildcats athletic department is excited for another new chapter in its history, as athletic director Dredrick Bell announced a new head coach for the baseball team on Thursday afternoon.
The Wildcats reached across county lines and hired Jason Lavaway, who spent the last eight years as an assistant coach at Gulf Breeze High.
“(Lavaway) did a great job at Gulf Breeze and I expect him to do an outstanding job here,” Bell said. “He is young and enthusiastic. He played the game and has a great feel for our program. Coach Lavaway has direction and a plan that fits well with where want to go as a program. I think he will work well with our community and parents.”
Prior to his eight seasons at Gulf Breeze, Lavaway spent one season as a graduate assistant coach for the University of West Florida’s baseball team.
“That year was (coach) Jim Spooner’s final season at UWF,” Lavaway said. “I benefited a lot from that year. Being able to be around a guy that had been around for 30 years and was on his way out … I took a lot from that.”
During Lavaway’s time at Gulf Breeze, the Dolphins were in a district with mostly Panama City schools, with the closest district opponent being Choctaw in Fort Walton Beach.
“I’m a Pensacola guy … I’ve lived here the whole time,” Lavaway said. “I have plenty of friends that coach in Pensacola. I always got to hear war stories about everybody on this side of the bridge. It will be cool to be a part of the local rivalry.
“Bless them, but I’m not going to miss those trips to Panama City to face our district opponents.”
On the field, Lavaway will aim for his Wildcats to be fundamentally solid.
“I’m a fundamentals kind of guy… it sounds cliché but it is the truth,” Lavaway said. “If we can make routine plays, hit with runners in scoring position, manufacture runs and minimize mistakes … I feel like it will give us a chance to win a lot of games.”
Lavaway added that he is excited to utilize the great facilities at Washington to benefit his team.
“The great thing about Washington is the resources we have,” Lavaway said. “We have a pool on campus. There are so many ways for the team to condition and get physically fit. In one way, it is a coaches dream.”