Kevin Ricks — who has served as a Pace High baseball assistant for the last 13 seasons — can fondly remember his first visit to Gulf Breeze High’s baseball field.
The year was 2002, and Ricks was two years into his tenure as head baseball coach at Robert F. Monroe High when the Bobcats hit the road for a game at Gulf Breeze.
“(Gulf Breeze High) had an awesome setting,” said Ricks, remembering the night more than 15 years later. “(Gulf Breeze) was right there in the middle of town and was one of the greatest facilities around.”
Friday morning, the Gulf Breeze principal Danny Brothers and a hiring committee gave Ricks an opportunity to cultivate his own program through those facilities as they selected Ricks to fill the vacant head baseball coach position for the Dolphins.
“Ricks showed great enthusiasm and passion for the game of baseball,” Brothers said. “His first thing is that he cares about making sure his players are student-athletes. He’s been around the area and has been outstanding for one of the powers in the state (Pace High baseball).”
Ricks played prep baseball at Florida High, which currently competes in the same district as Catholic.
After that, he stayed close to home and signed with Tallahassee Community College before receiving a scholarship to UWF.
Ricks was drafted by the California Angels (now L.A. Angels) and conducted a two-season career before walking away on his own terms.
“My high school coach really had a way of teaching baseball in a way that made it seem magical,” Ricks said. “The way he unfolded the nuisances and intricacies of the game really inspired a passion in me and my teammates. I want to inspire kids to love the game the way (my high school coach) loved the game.”
Ricks and the Dolphins will have access to a recently upgraded facility, which holds a clubhouse that is connected to the dugout.
Indoor batting cages are also featured.
“And we’re (Gulf Breeze baseball) gonna work really hard. I can’t guarantee how many wins and losses we’ll have, but we are going to prepare to win.”