Phillips accepts Occidental job |

Phillips accepts Occidental job

Park City High School is looking for a new baseball coach after five-year coach Terry Phillips recently left for the baseball team at Occidental College.

Phillips accepted an assistant coaching position at the academically prestigious liberal arts college near Los Angeles, following in the footsteps of 2010 Miners’ captain David Feasler.

PCHS has already begun its search for Phillips’ successor. Athletic director Doug Payne said the high school’s search committee has narrowed the field from six to three and plans on conducting interviews next week. Much depends on the job situation at the high school, since two of the three candidates would require teaching positions.

"They want a good teacher that can coach," Payne said. "No. 1, you just have to pick a good teacher."

Phillips said he doesn’t have any idea who the next coach will be, but that it’s a tough position to hire for. He said he was only paid about $2,400 last year – not too enticing considering the cost of living in Summit County.

"I had planned on staying here for a long time," Phillips said. "This opportunity came up, though, and I’d like to run my own college team some day. I’m finally getting some respect from some of my contacts in the baseball community."

Phillips met Occidental head coach Jason Hawkins when another PCHS player, Marshall Crawford, attended a showcase camp in California. Crawford wound up attending Clackamus Community College in Oregon, but the seed had been planted for Phillips. Occidental’s staff is hoping their newest hire will be able to bring in more players from Utah, and already they are eyeing some current Miners.

Phillips moved to Park City from Montana about five years ago, after deciding to pursue a career in coaching. "Baseball’s never been wrong to me," he said. He would have taken a college job if it had been offered at the time, he said, but he wouldn’t have been truly prepared for it without his experiences at PCHS.

He started as an assistant coach for the Miners’ freshman team, then ascended the coaching ladder year by year before taking over for Howard Hoyt this past season. The team started year-round weight training and fall baseball during Phillips’ tenure, and he led the team to the Class 3A playoffs in his lone year as head coach. Nonetheless, he’s anxious to return to a warm climate where baseball is treated more like a religion than a part-time hobby.

"We’re a ski town that has a baseball team," he said, adding that PCHS gets about five outdoor practices at home each season, and many of the kids will leave for spring break or summer vacation instead of committing time to outwork their peers.

"It’s hard here with the lack of commitment," Phillips said. "We can’t hold the kids to all the standards we’d like to, because there’s not enough kids."

Also playing into his decision to leave was the loss of Keith Otis, an assistant coach who passed away suddenly in early April at age 23. Otis had a close friendship with Phillips and fellow assistant Andy Facey.

"If he’s here, I don’t even think we’re having this conversation," Phillips said. "Or maybe (Otis) would be the head coach right now."

Phillips received permission from Payne to interview for the Occidental program earlier this year, and gave his notice in late June. He feels the next head coach will have it better than when he first arrived in Park City.

"The program’s in place," he said. "We left it in a better place than when we got here. We just need to have people continue what we have there."

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