Chasing 27 – Coach Jim Tom Copeland & NDS Green Wave baseball

Published 1:54 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

Editor’s Note: This features appeared in the 2024 Profile magazine as Coach Copeland and the Green Wave baseball team were in the running for the North Hall baseball title and chasing a school-record 27 wins. After a fantastic season, the 2024 team lost to Kirk Academy this week to end up 25-9, just two short games short.  The 2025 season will be here before we know it, and there’s always next year…

After a record setting season for the 2023 North Delta School Green Wave baseball program, head coach Jim Tom Copeland had a year to reflect on the team’s success and the upcoming 2024 season, including pages and notebooks full of numbers and statistics. But, one number was always on the third year coach’s mind – the number 27 and what it would mean for the current spring season.

“We won 26 games last season and that’s a record for this school, and all the credit goes to those players and the hard work they put in,” Copeland said recently. “But that success was last season and I’ve told these guys that I’m expecting 27 this year, and we hope more.”

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Copeland’s crew is off to a good start at reaching that 27 win mark and two weeks into the district season the Green Wave has already posted some big wins and continue to improve each week as the players learn one another and coaches find ways to put their best team on the field each game.

No one would have faulted Copeland for labeling 2024 as a “rebuilding year” because that terrific 26-win team had a roster of 7 seniors, all of whom have graduated and 2 – Kevin Hill and Trey Drumheller – are playing college baseball.

“Sure we could have said that graduating those seven players and having only three seniors for this season would be a disadvantage, but me and the other coaches don’t see it that way,” Copeland said. “We are ready to compete, and these players are ready to compete, with the lineup we have every day.”

Making out the lineup is one of Copeland’s coaching duties. Like all small-school coaches, he has become a master of many tasks from uniform manager to tuf specialist. In between is organizing practices, off season workouts, fundraisers, and doing his part to help players connect with coaches and programs at the Junior College and Division I and II levels.

And that doesn’t include the special projects he and the baseball boosters have undertaken each season. During his short tenure, the Green Wave baseball program has upgraded the field house, added indoor pitching mounds and more hitting cages, built a pressbox, and installed a new scoreboard.

This offseason’s project – adding home around the home plate area, upgrading drainage, and laying sod in front of the dugouts – was a major undertaking that brought the North Delta field to standards usually afforded at much larger venues. That project is not only appealing to the eye for fans, but improves the field for players and has allowed for games to be played following rains that would usually force cancellations.

It’s a labor of love for Copeland, who played many games on the same fields he now helps maintain. He graduated in 2011 from North Delta after excelling as a four sport athlete and good student.

After a successful college career he returned to coaching – taking on the job of Athletic Director at Strayhorn High School where he was in charge of the new football and baseball coaches, which also happened to be him.

“It was great experience at Strayhorn and we had good success there, but this opportunity was something that was right for me and my family and we haven’t looked back,” Copeland said, taking a breaking from tossing batting practice to an older player while giving a younger group instructions about field maintenance duties.

“There is always something to do,” Copeland said, pausing to take in the flurry of activity that is baseball players dressing for practice and coaches gathering gear and equipment for field workouts. “But we are a family and not just a team, and the players know that. High school baseball can be fun but it’s a challenge.”

And challenges are welcome in Copeland’s program. “We play a much bigger schedule than the school used to play, and that just means everybody has to do more. We have great support from our school and our fans and we want to give them our best.”

Copeland schedules hard games to prepare his players for the part of the season that matters – high school playoffs – and has reaped the rewards. “I’m here at midnight sometime, but it’s worth it,” he said.

With the consistent performance of team leaders Baylor Scammon, Owens Johnson, Kolby Baker, Herron Williams, and others, the Green Wave hopes to give Copeland, and the North Delta fan base, that 27th win in 2024, and maybe even a higher number to reach for next season.