Building a program and changing the culture. If you do that, the wins will come.
That’s the message Brett Wolfe brings with him to the North Coast and his new position as head coach of the Seaside baseball team.
The hire was a no-brainer for Seaside.
Wolfe spent 25 years as a coach at North Medford High School, with 494 career wins and state titles in 2007 and 2014.
Similar to when former Astoria High School baseball coach Dave Gasser came to Astoria in 2006, the Gulls now have their legendary coach from a big school, and a soon-to-be opened batting cage facility — now they just need a season.
The 2021 spring campaign is scheduled to take place April 12 to May 23.
Whenever the kids return to the diamond, Wolfe said he is here to stay and intends on bringing a winning culture.
The Seaside boys have a successful record in several sports over the past six years, winning two state titles in four championship appearances in basketball, a runner-up finish in football in 2018 and state titles in boys golf in 2014 and 2015.
If any Seaside sport needed some consistency, it’s baseball. And that’s where Wolfe hopes to deliver.
“The key is consistency,” he said. “It’s hard for kids to get excited when there’s so much change.”
But once a foundation is built, he said, “you get a program that wins, like basketball, and kids get used to winning. You just have to guide them, and the winning takes care of itself.”
The Gulls have had four coaches in the past three seasons. Longtime coach Joel Dierickx stepped down after 2018; Dan McFadden had the Gulls in 2019; and Ross Knutsen took over for McFadden in 2020, the season that was lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
Knutsen stepped aside, and in came Wolfe, who was hired as the varsity coach over the summer.
Wolfe said he met with representatives from the school last Christmas about this time.
“I drove up and met with Jeff (Roberts, Seaside High School principal) and told him my intent. Me and my wife (Kim, married 37 years) looked at this as our target area to retire to, because we love the area and we’ve always wanted to live up here.”
The couple has a son in Mount Vernon, Washington, and a daughter who teaches in Medford.
Wolfe said he also “wanted to keep my hand in baseball, and this was the perfect match.”
At first, he was looking to serve as a substitute teacher, but an opening for a teaching spot at the high school occurred near the start of the new school year. Wolfe accepted the position and is now teaching full time.
He added, “I knew Seaside was looking for a coach the year before, and I couldn’t make the transition at the time. Ross (Knutsen) stepped in and said he would do the interim year (2020), then I could take over the program after the season ended. Unfortunately, the season never happened.”
Citing family and business priorities, Knutsen stepped down and Wolfe was hired. Knutsen will still serve as an assistant.
At North Medford, Wolfe coached the Black Tornado from 1995 to 2019, and finished six wins shy of the 500-career win mark, all for a 6A school.
Wolfe knows he is stepping into a hot area for Oregon high school baseball. Since 2006, teams from Clatsop County have made a combined 10 appearances in state championship games, winning seven.
Wolfe has done his homework and is aware of the successful programs in Astoria, Warrenton and Knappa.
“It’s a different culture, a different level of play,” he said.
“There’s some good baseball around here. I’m excited, because rumor has it that the OSAA (Oregon School Activities Association) might be pushing for local leagues this spring to limit travel. If that’s the case, the good thing is that there’s some very good baseball here.”
And Wolfe hopes the Gulls will be part of the mix.
Wolfe compares his coaching approach to that of Warrenton’s Lennie Wolfe (no relation), saying “I’m kind of an old school guy. You give your best effort, you don’t throw your bat or your helmet and you hustle on and off the field.
“There’s good athletes here in Seaside,” he said. “And I’m excited about the baseball program.”
Living in Seaside is just a plus.
“As far as the weather goes, it’s great,” Wolfe said. “It’s a little grayer than I’m used to. But we love the lifestyle, and we go to the beach every day.”
The only negative: there’s more shark attacks in Seaside than Medford.
“Fortunately, I’m not a surfer,” Wolfe said of the recent shark attack. “And that just kind of confirmed that I never will be.”