NOTE: This story was posted a week before the death of Owen Valley coach Ryan Wilcoxen. He passed of a brain injury Feb. 25 at age 31. Schools all over the state lit up their fields in his honor.
By STEVE KRAH
Wesley Arthur peeks at his calendar and sees April 5 , 2021 as a special day.
That’s when the first-year head baseball coach at Eastern Greene High School near Bloomfield, Ind., is scheduled to coach his first game.
The Thunderbirds are slated to visit Owen Valley in Spencer, Ind. The Patriots are led by Eastern Greene alum Ryan Wilcoxen.
Arthur is a 2013 graduate of Owen Valley, where he played football for Duane Potts and baseball for Brian Greene. He was an OV assistant on the gridiron for Potts and helped on the diamond with Greene, Brad Garrison and Wilcoxen.
A corner infielder and designated hitter as a high school baseball player, Arthur also excelled in football as a lineman and received college interest in that sport.
Arthur opted to pursue an associate degree at Ivy Tech in Bloomington, Ind., and go into sales while beginning his coaching career.
He enjoys getting out on the field with his young athletes, creating a game plan and the chess match with the opposing players and coaches.
“I like to see what my kids can do and put them in the right place to be successful,” says Arthur.
Greene was the one that gave Arthur the opportunity to be a coach and both have shared time guiding players in baseball and football.
“We’re still really close,” says Arthur. “I consider him a close friend. He’s a mentor to me.
“We bounce ideas off each other.”
Besides high school assistant, Arthur has also been a head coach at the 12U and 13U levels for the Columbus-based Demand Command travel baseball organization.
Arthur, 26, is eager to make an impact on Eastern Greene baseball.
“We want to instill some continuity,” says Arthur. “We’ll probably have a younger roster.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic taking away the 2020 season, Arthur says he will have essentially two freshmen groups (Class of 2023 and Class of 2024) that will be new to high school baseball.
“We look to get our culture set,” says Arthur, who has seen some players during open gyms but not an entire group with many playing basketball and the school using a hybrid in-person class schedule (one half the student body comes two days and the other half comes two days). “We’ll look for upperclassmen with high school experience to be leaders.
“We’ll do what it takes to grind out some wins. We’ll be growing our baseball I.Q. We may take some lumps along the way.”
Arthur, who is assisted by Casey Bybee, hopes to have enough players for a junior varsity schedule.
“We want to grow the program and have fun,” says Arthur. “We want to keep the kids excited.”
Located a mile from Cincinnati, Ind., and 152 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio, Eastern Greene (enrollment around 300) is a member of the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference (with Bloomfield, Clay City, Linton-Stockton, North Central of Farmersburg, North Daviess, Shakamak and White River Valley).
The Thunderbirds are part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Linton-Stockton, Mitchell, North Knox, Paoli and South Knox. Eastern Greene has won five sectional crowns — the last in 2013.
Home games for the Thunderbirds are played on a field next to Eastern Greene Middle School and just over a mile down S.R. 54 from the high school.
“It’s been there forever,” says Arthur. “I think it looks nice.”
The field has dirt base paths leading from home plate and a “key hole” from the mound to the plate. Though its more work to maintain, Arthur appreciates the look it creates.
The middle school has seventh and eighth grade baseball teams.
At the younger ages, there is an Eastern Greene Youth Baseball with multiple teams in 8U, 10U and 12U divisions. A separate Thunder Travel baseball program sends players in those age groups out to take on teams around Greene County and the surrounding area.
“I want to build that chemistry and get it started early,” says Arthur of youngsters playing together who will eventually play at EGHS. “We want to get that momentum going.”
Thomas Wesley Arthur is the oldest of Tommy and Tina Arthur’s five children. Wesley’s four younger sisters are Tristany, Tori, Tiana and Teagan.