CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – It’s been a busy second semester for Northwest High School athletics. Not only transitioned its athletics director position it but also shifted directions in both varsity baseball and girls’ basketball.
With the arrival of new Vikings AD Jessica Peppard, Northwest has hired Robert Baskin to take over the baseball program while also hiring Eddie Walker to head the girls’ basketball program.
Peppard takes over the athletics department after former AD Marlon Heaston was promoted as the new principal at Northwest. Baskin takes over the baseball program from Dan Stephens who stepped down after his team was knocked out of the District 10 baseball tournament two weeks ago. Walker steps in as the girls’ basketball coach for former coach Kelly Parker.
For Baskin, the alure of coaching baseball again was too much to pass. He was an assistant coach at McGavock (2007-2012) and was the head baseball coach at Hillsboro (2012-13). The past two years he’s served as an assistant football coach at Northwest as the Vikings’ offensive line coach and offensive coordinator.
“Northwest already knew I had a baseball background so when this position became available I expressed my interest,” Baskin said. “I was quite honestly shocked when it came open because I know the job that coach Stephens has done here and he’s really done a great job with this program. I’m just lucky to follow in his shoes because he’s built a consistent winner here.”
Baskin will maintain his football coaching duties under head coach Vernon Wright while coaching baseball. His football coaching experience dates back to 1997 when he also coached wrestling.
“At every place I’ve been and every team I’ve been a part of the one constant is hard work,” Baskin said. “There’s no substitute for it. That’s what I will continue to bring to Northwest baseball. We are going to work hard and we’re going to hustle and we’ll battle tooth and nail. This team will put up a fight.”
Stephens had guided the Vikings program the past five years turning Northwest into a consistent threat. However the Vikings could never get over the hump against both Rossview and Clarksville High — two teams that have won the district regular season or tournament title the past seven years.
Stephens’ two best seasons came in 2012 and 2013. His Vikings finished 21-18-1 in 2012 with a 9-3 district record. The next year the Vikings were 22-9 overall. But during that stretch, Rossview was in the midst of four straight district tournament crowns. The past two years have been rough, however, as Stephens’ team went 22-41 since that 2013 season.
Now Northwest is hoping Baskin can get the Vikings back on track.
“That’s my plan,” he said. “But don’t get me wrong, coach Stephens was outstanding in what he did with the program. And there’s some talent coming back. I’ve also spent time with the middle school kids and there’s talent there as well. We can be successful, I believe that.”
Meanwhile, the girls’ basketball program introduces its second head coach in the past three years with Walker.
The Savannah, Ga., native has a wealth of head coaching experience having previously held positions at Perry County and Collierville. He was an assistant coach at Christian Brothers in Memphis also coached at St. Mary’s and Hickman County Middle School.
Despite attempts to reach Walker, he was not available for comment at press time.
Northwest’s girls program has struggled since the day of Ashley Haynes, who guided the Lady Vikings to the Class AAA girls state tournament in 2003 under former coach Ben Wallace. Parker took over the program in 2013 and finished with a 9-42 record during the past two years (5-23 in district).
George Robinson. Prep writer. 245-0747. Twitter: @Cville_Sports.