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Jon McLain named new Ashford baseball coach

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Dothan native Jon McLain, a baseball man through and through, has been hired as the new head coach at Ashford High School.

“A lot of people would say my baseball instincts are my best thing out of all of it,” McLain told the Dothan Eagle Wednesday afternoon. “I can almost see things before it happens.”

The new coach replaces Tom Zahller, who has stepped down from the baseball role at the school.

McLain is a 1995 graduate of Dothan High School who last coached at the high school level during the 2019 season at his alma mater, where he spent one year leading the Tigers before Dothan and Northview consolidated the following school year. Dothan made it to the second round of the state playoffs during his lone season in charge.

“After the schools consolidated, I took this break and was going to look and see what the landscape around the Wiregrass looked like,” McLain said.

During his time away from coaching, McLain spent plenty of time in front of the TV watching the Atlanta Braves to get his baseball fix.

“Thank God the Braves won the World Series last year,” McLain said. “I’ve still been averaging watching 180 games a year besides the pandemic year. Out of coaching and not dealing with the politics … it was nice to have a little break to be honest.

“Reset and get my feet back under me and then start creating a new vision, because what I had been working for my entire life in that one consolidation vote was gone. I truly had been aspiring to be the head baseball coach at Dothan High my whole career. “

He taught for two years at Dothan Prep Academy before being hired as a sixth grade history teacher at Ashford Middle School. The fit proved to be perfect for McLain.

“I didn’t know if I’d like it since I’ve been teaching high school all of these years,” McLain said. “I taught middle school I think four out of my 20 years, but man, this has been my favorite grade that I’ve taught.

“I mean, I absolutely love it. I had the best year I’ve ever had in education and I’m looking forward to seeing how the state scores and the ACAP test that we took come out. I really think we knocked it out of the park at that.”

Now McLain, who played baseball at Dothan High under the late Terry Collins for two seasons and Dirk Williams for one, wants to hit a home run as the Yellow Jackets new leader.

“We’re just going to try and reinvent the culture down here and get it back to being like it was in the 1980s and 1990s,” McLain said of past success. “Matter of fact, it’s kind of funny that Coach Collins went from Ashford to Dothan High and I went from Dothan High to Ashford.”

Prior to leading the Dothan program, McLain served as an assistant at Houston Academy, Wicksburg and Northview. He also was an assistant in the American Legion summer baseball program for Dothan Post 12 and later served as head coach for Post 12 for three years.

McLain believes he’s well-rounded as far as teaching the different aspects of the game.

“When you’re calling a game on the defensive side, I know what the shortstop and second baseman are thinking and I know what the pitcher is thinking and I know what the catcher is thinking, because I played all of the positions,” McLain said.

“I’m just as good as a middle infield guy as I am a pitching guy, but in the past 10 or 15 years, however long it’s been, I’ve been on the pitching side a lot more.

“Really the only reason I do that is because that’s where you’re in the most control of the game. That’s where you win or lose. I like to call the whole game on offense and defense.”

McLain will remain a teacher at the middle school, which he says will allow him to build relationships with the kids well before they play in the program.


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