La Plata, MD- John Childers, a history teacher at La Plata High School, has been named the 2019-20 Mideast Section Boys Baseball Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). The Mideast section includes Delaware, Washington, D.C., Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Childers has been the head varsity baseball coach at La Plata for more than a decade, and has been playing the sport most of his life.

The recent honor came as a surprise considering the 2020 high school baseball season was nonexistent due to precautions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. “I was surprised and excited about being named the Mideast Section Boys Coach of the Year by NFHS,” Childers said. “It’s special because it’s an acknowledgement that our program has been as successful as any program in the state in the last decade. It means a lot to our current and former players to be recognized for their great effort and achievements.”

Childers said the recognition is the result of the sustained success of La Plata’s baseball program. “To me, that’s more meaningful because it says it’s not just one year that your coaches and families got it right — but over a long period of time,” Childers said earlier in the school year when he was named a state Coach of the Year by the NFHS.

His influence reaches beyond the baseball diamond. “Coach Childers has been a staple in our La Plata High School community — not only being our baseball coach but also his ability to develop fine baseball players and future citizens of our community,” Rich Pauole, La Plata’s athletic director, said. “He has high standards that he instills on his players and they are still having fun while trying to attain those lofty goals.”

CCPS student-athletes have returned to practice for spring sports — including baseball. The game might be the same, but some new health and safety rules are in the mix as competitions begin next month.

“We’re adjusting to the new COVID protocols and we’re determined to make the best of a tough situation,” Childers said. He has been able to keep his players engaged with virtual and at-home workouts. And as a believer in servant leadership, Childers strives to instill a sense of gratitude among his players. 

“Whether it is practice time or games, [it] has been a key to not only keeping his team engaged, but hungry to improve, and to enjoy every moment — as you never know when it will be taken away,” Pauole said.

Childers thinks La Plata is ready to take the field. “I’m personally looking forward to our players competing and being challenged, and using those challenges to grow as players and as people,” he said.  

This year, competitions are limited to in-county games only — CCPS schools will only play each other and not travel outside of county ZIP codes to compete. “Quality competition brings out the best in people and we’re excited for the competition other county schools will provide,” Childers said.

La Plata baseball has a reputation to live up to, and Childers said the team is being questioned about their chances following the loss of several key players who graduated in 2020.

“Those questions are motivating our players, which translates to fast paced, competitive practices,” he said. “We’re taking each practice one day at a time, but we’re excited about the challenges ahead.”

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