Webster’s famous coach steps down

Webster coach Jarrod Washburn earned thanks for his success.

There will be a new head coach for the Webster Tigers baseball team next spring, as celebrated former Major Leaguer Jarrod Washburn announced this week that he would not be returning next year.

Washburn has led the Tiger program to the State finals and playoffs multiple times, and most recently led the team on a crusade that included 58 straight wins.

“That was a streak that made national (news),” stated Webster School Board president Mark Elliot. “And it speaks to the quality of the program.” 

The news of Washburn’s non-return was revealed at the Monday, Sept. 20 Webster Board of Education meeting, where the board presented Coach Washburn with a plaque, celebrating and thanking him for his success and program expansion since he took it over in 2013. 

Elliot noted that Websters’ state titles and success on the field were in dark contrast to some past Tiger baseball teams, which had a similar national attention, but for consecutive losses.

“I knew all about that team,” Elliot joked as the board smiled over some of the Washburn family success and how the former Tiger graduate returned to his alma mater to coach his kids and neighbors. “You’ve made us very proud.” 

When district administrator Jeff Fimreite pressed Washburn on his plans, Washburn revealed that he would be stepping down as head coach from the program to concentrate on his family and watching his own kids play sports and take part in other activities.

“I know I’ve already missed a lot,” Washburn said with a sigh. “But I’m not going anywhere, and I’ll still have my hands in the program.”

The board and gallery gave him a round of applause as Fimreite presented the plaque.

Jarrod Washburn was a major league pitcher for 12 years with several teams, most notably in 2002 with the Angels, when the southpaw went 18-6 with a 3.15 earned run average. He finished fourth place in voting that year for the prestigious Cy Young award, and was a critical element in helping his Angel squad win the World Series. He later went on to pitch for several teams and nearly threw a ‘perfect game’ once, with several notable seasons.

In other news:

• Elementary principal Ashley Nagel outlined and detailed some aspects of the recently noted mental health grants the district received, which amounts to $74,000 annually for two years. She outlined some of the ways they plan to use the grant and utilize it for mental health issues across the board.

“We’re really stoked about this,” Fimreite confirmed.

• Principal Nagel also outlined a just-started ‘Cub Club’ after school program, utilizing high school students and paid staffers after school from 3:15 to 5:30 p.m. She said it includes snacks, structured play times, possible tutoring and more.

“It’s been talked about a lot for a long time,” Nagel said, “We’re finally getting it going!”

She said there will be a small fee for the service, and said parents can sign children up for monthly or weekly participation, with the district looking to hire a supervisor for the program, as well as the noted high school students who may want to go into future childcare avocations. 

“We have some interest already,” Nagel said.

• Fimreite said the school will indeed offer free lunch to students this coming year, courtesy of state and federal granting. He clarified that while it’s great news for the district that will save a lot of families a lot of money, it only applies to full meals and not ala carte selections.

• The property committee went over some of the recent referendum improvements, which are winding down and include new turf coming to the baseball field in the coming weeks. However, efforts to find a sufficient well for built-in sprinklers yielded low pressure, meaning they will have to connect to village water, at a cost.

• Fimreite and Elliot noted the recent lack of bus drivers, which is a regional problem this year. They are looking at ways to remedy the shortage, like many business owners.

• Fimreite said the news was not great on their health insurance costs, which Health Partners is increasing by 13-percent his year. 

“It could have been a lot worse,” Fimreite said. “But it’s still going up 13-percent.”

• The district has seen an increase in elementary students this fall, leading them to hire an additional elementary teacher, which the board approved. 

• They also reminded the gallery that the annual meeting is next Monday, Sept. 27, where they will set the budget, expenditures and tax levy for the coming year.