published Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Wes Caldwell to assist coach Brian Hitchcox at Ooltewah

Lookout Valley coach Wes Caldwell gestures during a game against Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences at Lookout Valley.
Lookout Valley coach Wes Caldwell gestures during a game against Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences at Lookout Valley.
Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Wes Caldwell has resigned his position as baseball coach at Lookout Valley and is moving to Ooltewah.

The veteran coach's move is just one of several involving area baseball coaches.

Mike Kinney has resigned at Rhea County and will be replaced by Rusty Ray, Aaron Simmons has resigned at Sequatchie County, Travis Hart is moving from McMinn Central to Gatlinburg Pittman and Matt Allen, an assistant this past season to Matt Ray at McMinn County, will be taking over as head coach at Lincoln County.

Caldwell, who went from Rhea County to Lookout Valley to succeed David Dinger, is a special education teacher and it appeared that his teaching position might be in limbo. He saw the opportunity at Ooltewah and applied.

"Wes is somebody that I've had an eye on for a long time. I was impressed with the job he did at Rhea, and he and [current coach] Brian Hitchcox are good friends," Ooltewah principal Jarvis said. "When the opportunity presented itself and we had an opening in special education, I decided to go after him. He's a proven coach, but he is also well-regarded in the special education field."

Caldwell coached Hitchcox for two of the latter's high school seasons, and Hitchcox later served as his assistant at Rhea.

"There's a good relationship there," Hitchcox said. "I learned the game from him, and after college and pro ball I helped him in 2006 at Rhea. My plan was always to help him, but there were no openings after I graduated. Then there was an opening at Notre Dame and I took that job. We had always talked about coaching together one day."

The only thing Hitchcox might not have envisioned was Caldwell being his assistant, but that too is a good thing for Hitchcox, who never has had an assistant who also was a faculty member.

"Everything about [the hire] is awesome," he said. "We have hired a guy that coached four or five years in college and a great baseball guy that's a head coaching veteran. Wes is a guy that's as dedicated and as hard a worker as you'll ever find. His hire is huge for me in every aspect."

Lookout Valley principal Rick Rushworth said Monday that he has not decided on Caldwell's replacement. He has two solid candidates who already are current faculty members and played for Dinger: Jason Henderson and Lance Rorex.

Lincoln County is Allen's first head coaching position. He succeeds Travis Tate, who has taken a job in Alabama.

"It would have been nice to be closer to home, but it's a triple-A job in a very competitive district. I'm looking forward to it," Allen said.

Allen is a former Polk County player (five years for Bill Triplett), and he also worked for the program for two years as a volunteer assistant and then two years as a non-faculty assistant for Michael Carter.

"I actually have three guys on my travel team that play at Lincoln County, and one of their dads called and told me the job was open and suggested I apply," Allen said. "I sent a resume, didn't hear anything and had pretty much forgotten it when their athletic director called and asked me to go up for an interview."

He was hired that same day.

Kinney has been head coach at Rhea since Caldwell departed but wants to spend more time with his son.

"He'll continue to teach but his young son is heavy into baseball, so he's being a daddy," Rhea County principal Jesse Messimer said. "I understand exactly what he's doing and why."

Ray is a former Rhea County standout in baseball and football.

"He played here in the early [19]80s and then played a little college ball. He has been assistant coach to Mike, so it should be an easy transition," Messimer said.

Hart spent 13 seasons at McMinn Central. Along with Polk County, the Englewood position is one of two baseball jobs open in District 5-AA.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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