Hopkinsville baseball coach Blake Leach has worn a few hats in his career, but now he'll wear a new one as the athletic director at Hopkinsville High School.
Leach has been learning the ropes of his new position for the last couple of months, but the move was made official Monday and he'll be pulling double duty at HHS as he'll still be at the helm of the Tiger baseball program.
"First off, I'm just thankful for the opportunity from Dr. (John) Gunn and the administration there," he said. "I just want to make sure that I can help out the students, athletes and coaches as much as I can. I feel like we got a lot of good coaches there at Hopkinsville. I just want to make sure I'm there and can support them any way I can."
Leach said there was one former mentor that he confided in when the position first came up and that person came from his early days as a coach in Florida.
"When I was coaching down at Pensacola, the head coach down there Bill Hamilton, he was also our Pensacola Junior College athletic director and also baseball coach," he said. "I talk to him quite a bit and this came up. I just called him and asked him some questions. Just being around him and just seeing how he went about things. There were some questions that I had.
"I do have some concerns on how that's going to affect other things that I'm in, including baseball, having a family. I've talked to enough people and I tried to get started as early as possible, whether that has any effect on it or not, I don't know. But I feel better going into the situation having a little bit of background knowledge on it."
Wayne Thomas was the previous athletic director at Hoptown and Leach said he was instrumental in getting him ready to tackle this new position. Leach has worked under multiple ADs and said he's learned something from each of them.
"I'm just looking forward to the opportunity," he said. "Obviously there's some stuff I've got to learn. I've been fortunate because I feel like I've worked under some people who have good experience and know what's going on. That's been here and that's also been at Christian County and also down at Pensacola under Bill. A lot of stuff to learn, a lot of stuff to figure out but I'm looking forward to the opportunity."
After being in Hopkinsville since 2005, Leach said he's seen some changes in the community but at the schools as well.
"The thing that I've noticed since I've been here is kids have changed to some degree,"
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he said. "When I was a teacher earlier on, I felt like I was able to help students out in certain ways and at the point we're at now in society, I feel like this was a great opportunity for me to continue to help students in the classroom.
"I'm 40 years old, I've been around a little bit. I've made good decisions, I've made bad decisions, but I feel like this is the best opportunity for me to get through to kids whether that's on the athletic field, whether that's talking to them about post-secondary education, I just felt like that was how I was going to continue to reach kids."
It's been around 18 months since Leach suffered a seizure in his classroom, due to a tumor behind his left ear. For Leach, that could have been the end but it wasn't.
Now, he's a 2nd Region champion and onto a different role in the community he calls home.
"To be perfectly honest, I'm very lucky and I'm very thankful for the position I'm at right now," he said. "When I got interviewed after the regional tournament, my first comment was 'what a difference a year makes.' I kind of feel like that's where I'm at right now. A year ago, I didn't really know where I was going. I don't think anybody really knows, to be honest. Every day is different, different for certain people. I don't know that all my personal health issues are totally fixed, but I'm just not the type of person to continually dwell on that. I'm not afraid to work.
"That was a part of the decision for them to hire me, I'm not shying away from this. Yes, it can be an issue at times, but there's people out there in worse situations than me and I feel like if I can continue to do what I'm doing, then I think that's a pretty good decision overall."