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Eagle fans will have a familiar face on the sidelines in 2009, as Joey Baird returns to his alma mater to take the helm of West Union boys basketball.
As officially announced by the school and the Union County School Board in their June 1 meeting, Baird will replace Kevin Williams, who is transferring to Ingomar to take over the Lady Falcons fast pitch softball program. When searching for a replacement, county superintendent Ken Basil found just what he wanted in his former player.
"The Baird name is synonymous with West Union basketball, and we're happy to have him," Basil explained. " He played for me many years ago. He is a good basketball player, smart and he's a gym rat."
After graduating from West Union in 1999, Baird received a degree in secondary education/social studies from the University of Mississippi in 2003.
Out of college, Baird taught at Desoto Central High, where he helped with the junior high boys basketball program, as well as working as an assistant for the varsity squad under Ron Wilson.
"He worked with me for several years," Wilson said. "He's been great for the Jaguars program, and I know he'll do well at West Union. That's his home, and it's a good fit for him."
Baird is excited to be back in Union County, but knows there is a lot of work ahead of him to make the program successful.
"I'm excited to finally be a head coach," Baird said. "It's a little overwhelming to take over a program like this, but I'm prepared to work my tail off to make it successful."
Getting back to the basics is what Baird is focused on, as his main goal is to make West Union more competitive.
"The main thing with a job like this is that I'm walking into a blank slate, and it's for me to mold," Baird explained. "We'll be working throughout the summer to catch the kids up. I'm excited, but not bouncing off the walls because I know this is a tough task ahead of me."
Among activities planned for the summer, Baird and his assistant, Shane Murphree will have the kids working out while teaching them.
"We'll be playing and working out to get stronger," Baird said. "We're going to try to teach the basics, as we have a lot of young ones."
Basil and the West Union community are all excited about what Baird will bring to the Eagles program.
"Joey will be a plus because he will work the kids, not only the ones he will have at the high school, but he will drop down and work with the elementary kids and get them involved as well," Basil said. "He's going to be in the gym with them and work them, and he's going to push them."