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District championships, state tournament appearances and hundreds of wins is what Kingston’s Ronnie Ladd accomplished before retiring as head coach of the Kingston Lady Yellow Jackets in 2003.
Ladd, however, wasn’t totally happy with retirement. He spent two years at Midway in 2006 and 2007 as an assistant coach helping his daughter Amy lead the Lady Waves to the TSSAA Class A State Tournament both seasons.
While helping his daughter as Midway was rewarding, Ladd missed the orange and blue of Roane County High School and when the opportunity to coach the Lady Jackets presented itself this offseason, the 60-year-old Ladd didn’t have to spend much time deciding what to do.
“I’m a Kingston man through and through. When our principal (Lance Duff) asked me to take it I said I would,” Ladd said. “I wanted to get back into it and I knew there were some talented girls on this team.”
During his first stint as head coach of the Lady Jackets, Ladd was known for being a hard-nosed leader who expected his team to be disciplined both on and off the field. Ladd said that’s something that hasn’t changed during his time off.
“I’m old-school and they know that,” Ladd said. “I want these girls to be here and do what they’re supposed to do. I want them to have good character. They need to act right, do right, and represent their school and community. If they work hard and do those things then everything else will take care of itself.”
While Ladd is still old-school, he has changed his coaching style just a bit. When he retired in 2003, Ladd liked to have complete control of everything, but now he has given up a key aspect of the game as he now lets former Lady Jacket all-state pitcher Rachel Henley call pitches during the game.
“Rachel Henley helps me a lot,” Ladd said. “I think she’s the best ever around here and I trust her.”
Ladd has also noticed changes in the way the game is played and how much more time today’s players dedicate to the sport.
“It’s different,” he said. “Slap hitters are more prevalent now and that’s changed the game. These kids also play more. Just about all of them play summer and fall ball. They know how to play. They also have their own bats. I used to spend $2,500 to $3,000 on bats, but now I don’t have to do that.”
Ladd opened the season with a 5-3 victory over Meigs County on March 17. Then last week, the Lady Jackets opened District 4-AA play with a pair of wins over Stone Memorial. Ladd said he felt like he had never taken a day off and winning still feels good.
“I’ve not been a bit nervous since taking over,” Ladd said. “I think some of the girls were nervous about playing for me, but nothing has changed for me. I still like winning a lot more than losing.”
Ladd admits that he is happy about being back in the third base coaching box and he says there will be no early retirement this time around.
“I’ll be done when I retire from school,” he said. “I don’t know when that will be though. I’m 60 years old and I’m enjoying what I’m doing.”