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EP selects Cowden to lead baseball program

EAGLE POINT ' Ever the loyal assistant coach and good soldier, Rob Cowden is finally getting his chance to run a sports program at Eagle Point High School.

Cowden, 32, was named the Eagles' head baseball coach last week.

The school also announced that head football coach Harry Hedrick will replace a retiring Bob Bergen as athletic director. Hedrick will also serve as an assistant principal.

Cowden, a three-sport standout at Eagle Point in the late 1980s, has been an assistant coach in wrestling and baseball for the past nine years and an assistant in football for the past seven. He also serves as a counselor at the high school.

Rob deserves a shot at running a program, Hedrick said. He's proved that he can fit into almost any situation. Being a school counselor, he has good interpersonal skills working with kids and adults.

— Cowden said he's eager and excited but also a bit anxious about becoming a head coach for the first time.

I definitely know I've got my work cut out for me, he said. But I'm a person who has always met challenges head-on.

The Eagles have logged last-place finishes in the Southern Oregon Conference the past five years. They went 3-18 in the SOC and 6-20 overall last season, and haven't posted a winning ledger since 2000.

Cowden plans to emphasize fundamentals and employ an aggressive approach offensively.

I think certain tactics like bunting and hitting and running have become a lost art, he said. I really enjoyed the small ball approach as a player and that's the way I'm going to coach.

Fundamentals are going to be huge. I'm a person that believes that small things matter. I'm going to expect and demand hard work every day in practice.

Cowden won a total of 10 letters in football, wrestling and baseball at Eagle Point and was a two-time district champion on the mats.

In college, he earned first-team, all-conference and team MVP honors as an outfielder at Western Oregon University in 1995 when he helped the Wolves' baseball squad to a 35-13 record and an appearance in the NAIA Northwest Regionals.

Cowden replaces Tom Britton, who was fired last month after leading Eagle Point baseball for 26 seasons.

The 48-year-old Hedrick, meanwhile, will tackle heavy administrative duties at Eagle Point by becoming AD and assistant principal while retaining his head football coaching chores. Bill Taylor, the Eagles' defensive coordinator, was also handed an assistant principal position.

Bergen will stay on through the fall while Hedrick and Taylor coach football.

There's going to be a lot more stuff on my plate, said Hedrick, whose responsibilities will include evaluating teachers and coaches, helping arrange curriculum and school policy, scheduling sporting events and meeting with parents. Time management will be an issue, but I think I'm up for the challenge.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail EP selects Cowden to lead baseball program"dhunt@mailtribune.com.