07/15/11 — Massey wants to restore once-proud tradition

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Massey wants to restore once-proud tradition

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 15, 2011 1:47 PM

It's not a Cinderella story, but more akin to David and Goliath.

Jackson Massey gets goosebumps thinking about the possibilities of restoring a once-proud baseball program that has enjoyed little success since its resurrection earlier this decade.

A Wayne County native with a strong baseball pedigree, Massey has been named the new varsity baseball coach at Goldsboro High. He takes over for Ed Cromartie, who stepped down to continue his education. Cromartie roamed the Cougars' dugout for four seasons.

"I'm looking forward to starting a program almost from the ground up, and trying to rebuild the history and respect they had back in the day," said Massey. "It's not that the talent isn't at Goldsboro High School because you see how talented they are in other sports. If I can commit to them and help them improve on the game of baseball and teach them the game of baseball, then I see nothing but big improvement for the future.

"I know the resources are there."

Cromartie restarted the program during Goldsboro's stint in the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference. The school was realigned into the Carolina 1-A Conference two years ago, and has shown some progress.

Massey observed a different demeanor this past spring.

"They looked like a team starting to make improvements and having players on the team who actually cared about the program," said Massey, who spent the spring as an assistant coach at Rosewood High School. "That was the biggest difference compared to past years. I feel like it's definitely going in the right direction."

But Massey has to change the perception at Goldsboro since baseball hasn't established a winning tradition like its football and basketball programs.

The Cougars have yet to consistently win on the Carolina Conference scene. Their two non-conference wins this spring occurred against Rocky Mount Prep.

Some of the program's groundwork begins on the middle school level. Veteran coach and avid baseball fan Danny Merritt has rebuilt the Dillard Middle School program, which enjoyed its most-successful season in recent years this past spring.

"If they can have the same concepts/expectations at the middle school like I have at the high school, then they'll be able to walk into a program where they know what's expected of them and what they're able to do," said Massey. "They'll be able to grow as a person and as a baseball player, and keep developing their talents from middle school to the high school level."

Massey played on Wayne County Post 11's state runner-up team in 2007 and was a member of Mount Olive's Division II national championship squad in 2008.

His unbridled enthusiasm, dedication and desire to succeed made him a strong candidate when Cromartie relinquished the reins.

"He's proved his merit as a player at C.B. Aycock and Mount Olive," said Patrick Reynell, co-athletics director at GHS. "He will obviously bring a knowledge of the game that we think the student-athletes will be excited about. (He) is a good person who understands that athletics is a tool to help nurture and mold young people.

"He is simply a role model by example and we trust in his professionalism."

Massey eagerly anticipates meeting with the players and sharing his knowledge. He plans to create a positive environment during practice and spark a program that will hopefully raise a few eye brows in the next couple of years.

"I have to show I'm committed to them," said Massey. "I want to help them succeed on and off the field. All it takes is one person to say 'this is a good thing.' Then they tell their buddies 'hey, you ought to come out to baseball and see how you like it.'

"I want to give them a positive atmosphere ... a positive setting after school that we can come out and have fun, and play baseball. It's going to be even better once you learn (the game) and win some ballgames.

"It doesn't have to be what people perceive."