Rexroat sets school record for all-time wins

Russell County Lakers Baseball Coach David Rexroat holds the school’s all-time wins record.

David Rexroat knows a thing or two about winning baseball games.

A homegrown Laker, Rexroat has been at the helm of the Russell County High School Laker Baseball program for 19 seasons and on Monday night, as the Lakers walked off the field victorious over Wayne County, Rexroat picked up his 440th win of his Russell County coaching career, passing fellow Hall of Famer Terry Wade.

“It means a lot to be the head coach of this program, with the history that it has behind it, but I always say this. It’s about the kids, it’s not about me,” Rexroat said. “I’m just fortunate enough to be the head man here for 18, going on 19 years. It was a good program before I took over and I’ve just tried to maintain what we have and add to it to keep it going. I’ve been very blessed to have had some great players, some great parents, great coaches, and a lot of support along the way.”

Rexroat, who played for Wade during his playing days at RCHS, said Wade has been a great mentor for him along the way.

“I played for Coach Wade back in the 1980s,” Rexroat said. “He was hardcore, disciplined, and I learned a lot from him on that. I try to stay true to that and stay consistent with discipline and the idea that no matter who you are, or where you’re from, we’re going to try to put the best 9-10 kids on the field. It may take a while to figure it out, but we eventually do.”

Wade sent him a congratulatory text Tuesday morning following the win, something that Rexroat said meant a lot.

“That meant a ton to me,” Rexroat said. “It seems like yesterday when I started coaching, so it’s taken some time for this to really sink in. With Coach Wade and I, that’s about 40-some years with the program. Of course, you had Coach Pickett in there who coached about four years and had a big part in it. Coach Wade was a big part of the program, keeping it consistent.”

Over his career as the Lakers Baseball coach, Rexroat said a few games stand out. In 2003, the Lakers won the 12th Region Tournament and faced off against Paul Lawrence Dunbar in the state tournament. Dunbar was the top team in the state that year, and was among the 20 best teams in the nation. The Lakers ultimately fell short in that series, and Dunbar cruised the rest of the way to a state championship, but Rexroat said defeating Dunbar in Game 2 of that series is a memory that sticks out.

“That was one of the biggest wins,” Rexroat said. “We were the only team to beat them on their way to the state championship.”

Rexroat also pointed to the 2009 4th Region Championship team as a fond memory of his Laker coaching career.

“That team was special because they were a group of young men that weren’t exceptionally strong hitters, but they bonded together at the right time and beat Bowling Green to win the region championship that year,” Rexroat said. “That was a really awesome experience.”

Rexroat’s program has been a model of consistency over his tenure at the helm of the Laker program. The Lakers, under Rexroat, have consistently been a top team in the 16th District year-in-and-year-out while always being competitive in the 4th Region.

That consistency, Rexroat said, comes from a lot of factors.

“This is a program,” Rexroat said. “Not every season is separated… But we’ve been blessed to have a lot of great players over the years. I think a big part of our success has been the coaches coming together and creating a really good youth league program, a really good farm system. We’ve been consistent with the middle school and high school coaches. We’ve had little turnover there. Coach Clark, Coach Bennett, and Coach Taylor have been helping me out at the high school level the last few years, and those guys have been a big part of this. You look at Coach Popplewell and his dad, the role they’ve played. Then Coach Kinder, where he coached the middle school program for years. The consistency of the people involved in the program means a whole lot for the overall success.”

Rexroat said he’s often asked how the baseball program has the sustained success it has over the years.

“There’s really no good answer honestly,” Rexroat said. “You just gotta have good team chemistry. The kids have to want to win for the program and the pride of the program. When they put that jersey on, I think it means a lot to them and we try to instill that in them every year early in the season to let them know this is a tradition and we have to keep it going.”

Rexroat said a lot of people play a role in the success the Laker Baseball program has had over the past nearly two decades.

“The board of education. you have to start with them because without them, we don’t even have a program,” Rexroat said. “But then, with parents, players, the community support, the alumni… The alumni is huge for us. I don’t know how many texts I’ve had from former players congratulating me. That means a whole lot. The former players keep up with the program through the years and help support us financially and help keep the park up and make it as good as it can be. I think community pride means a lot in general, and that community includes a whole lot of different people. The community support, whether it’s businesses or parents or alumni or whoever, I think that’s huge for us here in Russell County.”

Rexroat said he’s especially thankful for those closest to him for helping make his career what it’s been.

“My family, particularly my wife, I’m away from home a lot so I thank her and my mom and dad for instilling in me hard work and discipline,” Rexroat said. “I think that’s really made me progress as a coach and helped me become who I am.”

About Zac Oakes 5393 Articles
Zac Oakes is the News and Sports Director for and Laker Country WJRS 104.9 FM.