ASHLAND, Ky. (KT) – David Greene is already the principal of one of Kentucky’s most highly regarded middle schools and the youth pastor in one of northeastern Kentucky’s bigger churches.
Why not add becoming the high school baseball coach of a highly respected program to his duties?
Greene doesn’t see it as piling on. He sees it as piling up.
“God comes out of nowhere sometimes,” he said. “This came out of nowhere.”
The Kentucky Baptist, who is a staff member at Rose Hill Baptist Church in Ashland along with being the principal of Ashland Middle School, never blinked when school officials asked him to take over as the head baseball coach of the Ashland Tomcats earlier this spring.
The previous coach had left abruptly only two weeks before the season was set to start.
Greene went first to prayer, then to his family and then to his pastor – in that order – before saying yes.
“When this opportunity came up it was important to talk to the family about it,” he said. “Certainly, I wanted to talk to Zach (his son) about it. I’ve been his Little League coach, his middle school principal, his youth pastor and now I was asking to be his baseball coach in his senior year. He’s never been able to get away from me.”
Zach Greene, the starting shortstop, gave his father an enthusiastic yes, as did other family members, including wife Susan, who Greene called “his best friend.”
That left Rose Hill Pastor Matt Shamblin, who gave Greene the green light to take on the position, too.
“Matt was awesome,” Greene said. “He said, ‘You need to stand in the gap for this team this year.’ He was all in on the idea. I didn’t want to let the church or my kids down.”
Shamblin saw the good in his youth pastor becoming the baseball coach at a school like Ashland that takes its sports so seriously.
“The way I thought about it, it’s an opportunity for him to minister to families and students in a difficult time,” he said. “It’s never an easy transition when a coach leaves a program.”
Shamblin said he didn’t expect Greene to pass out gospel tracts but “you can’t remove who David Greene is and from what he does. It’s an opportunity to put a fantastic witness to Christ before these guys and a great example of a wonderful person before them.”
Greene said the busy baseball schedule hasn’t interfered much with his duties as youth pastor, where he regularly leads 50 or more students. He said capable helpers are already in place, if and when it does interfere in some way.
As for his coaching, he put together a staff of friends with good baseball minds to help him. Derrick Runyon, Shane Marushi, Evan Yongue, Chad Hieneman, Mike Heineman and Luke Vincent have made the transition easier.
“The assistant coaches we were able to bring in are No. 1 great baseball guys, great men, great role models for boys,” he said. “I’m having a ball with it.”
So far, so good for the Tomcats, who are 11-6 and a strong contender in the 16th Region. Greene’s positive influence and encouraging spirit has changed the program for the better. Most of the players knew him well because of growing up and playing with his son.
“I’m soaking it up,” he said. “I’ve known these boys since they were kids in Little League. I loved watching them grow up and turn into the young men they’re becoming. Many of them are interested in ministry at church.”
Everyone who works for Greene at Ashland Middle School understands who he is both personally and spiritually. He has become one of the state’s top administrators.
Greene said he became a believer at 14 years old and said that may be a reason he has a heart for student ministry.
“God has put a lot of good mentors around me and in front of me,” he said. “We have good people here at the middle school.
They’re every bit as good to me as I am to them. We have lots of good Christian people here who are very good professionals, good educators.”
Greene has been in public education for 22 years. This is his ninth year as principal in middle school.
Behind it all is his wife, who he said never wants to be out in front. “She always wants to serve,” he said. “Her humility and the love she has for these kids in student ministry, I can’t find the adjectives to describe it. She ministers to our family as well and is good at the things that I’m not.”
As for taking on a “third job” as the head baseball coach of a highly competitive program, Greene said: “The Lord has been out in front of this. It’s given me peace of mind to be obedient to Him. He’s paved the way.”