ILWACO - IHS Athletic Director Matt Blair announced last week that Kevin Heimbigner will return as head coach of the Ilwaco High School baseball team and Dave Cook of Long Beach will step in as his assistant.

Heimbigner, who served IHS as varsity baseball coach in 2000 and coached Naselle High School from 1988 until 1999, said he is looking forward to getting back into the dugout.

"I am excited to be a part of helping make the baseball program at Ilwaco a competitive, enjoyable and enriching experience for as many young men as I can," he said Thursday.

Cook volunteered his coaching talents last season to aid Matt McKinstry, who had served as IHS assistant coach before moving to the Tri-Cities.

Jerry Eilers who guided the Fishermen to a 7-11 record last season decided late in the fall that he would not return for his second year as head baseball coach, citing the need to focus his time on teaching.

Blair said IHS is fortunate to have someone in the area with so much knowledge of the game, as well as experience teaching.

"I think we got lucky with Kevin [Heimbigner]. We had several qualified applicants, but he was just the easy choice," said Blair "He was in the area and he has an incredible record as a coach."

Heimbigner was named State Coach of the Year three times and amassed a 411-102 record as a high school baseball coach, taking his teams to 16 state baseball tournaments in 22 seasons.

He began his high school coaching career in 1973 at Toutle Lake High School, where his baseball teams eventually won back-to-back state championships.Later he moved to Odessa for two years and coached varsity basketball, football and baseball.

After spending 30 years as an educator, the last 24 in Naselle, Heimbigner retired in June 2003. Since then he has spent time as a reporter for the Chinook Observer. Heimbigner, his wife Debbie, and three children have made the Peninsula their home the past quarter century.

Heimbigner will soon be offering a free coaching clinic for anyone interested in working with Peninsula youth baseball.

Tryouts for the IHS baseball team will take place the same day as the first practice - 3 p.m., March 1, at Rutherford Field in Long Beach. Students interested in playing are encouraged to attend.

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