By Chuck Reherman
In what was a quick turnaround, Yukon found the man they wanted to take over the baseball program.
Edmond Santa Fe head coach Ryan Phillips was named as the new YHS head coach Monday night, after being approved by the Yukon Board of Education.
Phillips takes over the reins of the program from Kevin James, who resigned late in the season.
Phillips, who was looking for a new challenge, guided the Wolves to the class 6A state finals, where the team finished as state runner-up. He was named the Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference Coach of the Year after this recent season.
“Yukon is one of those schools that I think most coaches in our sport look highly upon,” Phillips said. “There is a lot of intrigue that goes with one school and community, and when the opportunity came up I felt it was the time to take that chance.
“I found out Monday night when the board made it official, and I am excited to come in and get started,” he said. “I know Yukon made the state tournament last year; they have always been pretty good and have the talent. I am looking to bring some excitement and more stability. They have always had stability with Kevin, but I look to bring some excitement and when we work together with the kids and the assistant coaches, we get together and create a good culture and go from there.
“Results are something we can’t control, but we can control the process and hopefully I can bring that prospective,” Phillips said. “I was surprised that the position came open – Kevin had done a great job there. It was a fast process, I interviewed on Tuesday and had a second one on Friday.”
Phillips brings with him an impressive resume. He spent nine years as head coach at Santa Fe and guided the team to the 2019 state title. He was named Region 8 and COAC coach of the year and coached the West All-State team that year.
He was Region 8 coach again in 2020 and was named Ferguson Jenkins Most Outstanding coach. In his nine years at Santa Fe, he built a 170-77 winning record.
“When hiring new coaches, I always look for those who I believe will best benefit students on and off the field, and Coach Phillips’ experience shows that his top priority is helping his players be successful not only in baseball but in life,” Yukon Public Schools Athletic Director Brian Hinson said. “Having a coach that is as good as Ryan join YPS shows how exciting of a time it is to be a Miller.”
Phillips not only has experience in baseball as a coach but as a player as well. He played professional baseball as a pitcher in the minor leagues for the Boston Red Sox from 2004 to 2007 before leaving to become a coach.
Phillips started his high school baseball coaching career in 2008 as an assistant at Southmoore after graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma.
“I can’t imagine a better role model for our players than someone like coach Phillips, who has experienced what it is like to play baseball at every level,” Hinson said. “The future for YHS baseball is bright, and I can’t wait to watch the team play this upcoming spring.”