BENSON — Former Princeton High standout Joey Worley is the new head baseball coach at West Johnston High School. He replaces Mike Jacobs, who stepped down at the end of the 2012 season.
Worley was head baseball coach at Knightdale from 2006 to 2009.
Worley, who has been an assistant coach on the Wildcats’ baseball coaching staff since the 2010 season, brings a wealth of winning experience to the West program.
“I am very excited to have this opportunity but there is a lot of pressure due to the tradition that Mike Jacobs set,” Worley said.
The former East Carolina University player (1995-97) knows a lot about winning traditions. He was part of Princeton’s two state championship teams in the 1990s and was an assistant baseball coach at Ayden-Grifton High when the Chargers went to the eastern finals one season and the state championship series the next season.
“I got a chance to see programs work and compete at a high level,” Worley said. “I learned a lot from that and how the coaches approached the game and their players. I took a lot from Coach (Kenny) Meekins, Coach (Bruce) Proctor, Coach (Chris) Ross, and Coach Jacobs that will hopefully have me more prepared as a head coach.
“It still boils down to the kids and having them ready for each and every game. More importantly, teaching them to have fun and gain what life has shown them in every game. These coaches and Coach Keith LeClair (the late ECU coach) all taught me that baseball teaches life lessons every pitch. All we have to do is pay attention.”
Worley also coached at Smithfield-Selma for two seasons before he took the job at Knightdale. He has coached a silver medal team in the State Games of North Carolina and coached the 17U Carolina Cubs showcase fall team for the last three seasons.
The Wildcats will field a younger team this season after more than half a dozen seniors graduated, including five who went on to play college baseball.
“The team is young, but it has potential,” Worley said. “We are going to have to hit the weight room and just grind harder than any other team out there in order for us to be successful.”
Best: 919-524-8895; Twitter: @dclaybest