When it comes to replacing retiring head baseball coach Fred Oliver, Highland Park is keeping it in the family.
Assistant coach Travis Yoder, who has been with the program since 2006, has been promoted to head coach, athletic director Randy Allen said. Bobby Leidner will move up to first assistant coach, Yoder’s former position.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Yoder said. “It’s been crazy. I’m extremely excited. They treat me well here. It’s been an unbelievable ride, and I can’t wait to keep it going and start something new.”
Yoder was the head baseball coach at Adamson for five seasons before coming to Highland Park. He’s looking forward to getting back to that role.
“Filling Coach Oliver’s shoes will be pretty hard to do,” Yoder said, “but you get to put your own little flavor on the team, do what you want to do, and focus on what you want to focus on. It’s your deal, and that’s how it works. You just try to maintain the tradition of Highland Park and see how far you can take it each year. It’s a dream come true for me. It’s pretty awesome — I’m not going to lie.”
In four seasons at Highland Park, Oliver compiled a 101-43-2 record. For his career — which included stops at Plainview, Lufkin, and Lubbock Monterrey — Oliver is 587-321-3 in 28 years as a head coach. He has also recently been inducted into the National High School Baseball Coaches Association and Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association’s halls of fame. Oliver retired after Highland Park’s final game of this past season.
“I recommended him,” Oliver said of Yoder. “I think he’s ready. He’s served his time and is very organized. He’ll do great with the kids. He’s a perfect fit for our baseball program. It’s a lot easier [having him already in the program]. The kids know him and know what to expect. It makes it easier on the transition for the parents. I’m sure they are all behind him 100 percent.”
After receiving numerous applications to replace Oliver, Allen said he interviewed the three strongest candidates.
“He had very strong support from the players and some of the other coaches,” Allen said of Yoder. “He had great preparation, being here since 2006. He did a great job interviewing. I think just the fact that there’s familiarity will help our players.”
The Scots finished 19-15 and shared the District 10-4A championship with Forney this past season. Highland Park lost a best-of-three series to Prosper in the bi-district round.